Montana man arrested for allegedly poaching three trophy elk - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Montana man arrested for allegedly poaching three trophy elk

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CASPER, Wyo. — A Roundup, Montana man has been arrested “on two felony and 19 misdemeanor charges stemming from two August incidents in which three trophy bull elk were killed at night in Musselshell County.”

Earl Russell Benes, 23, was arrested by game wardens on a $10,000 warrant on Friday, Nov. 15, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Benes has posted bond and has been released from jail.

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“The charges stemmed from two incidents in which trophy bull elk were killed with a gun fired from a vehicle on a public roadway at night during closed hunting season,” Montana FWP says. “Two elk were killed 10 miles east of Roundup along U.S. Highway 12 on Aug. 17. One was killed along Dean Creek southwest of Roundup on Aug. 20.”

A concerned citizen called with information that led to Benes’ arrest after rewards were offered, Montana FWP says.

The following rewards have been offered if information is provided that leads to a conviction:

  • Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunter: $1,000
  • Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife: $1,000
  • Montan Fish, Wildlife and Parks: $1,000

The two felonies Benes is charged with are for alleged:

  • Criminal endangerment, for discharging a handgun in close proximity to another individual.
  • Aggravated cruelty to an animal, for shooting one bull elk in the neck with a handgun, then leaving it to suffer for an extended time before it died.

The 19 misdemeanors he faces are for the following alleged crimes:

  • Two counts of hunting without a license.
  • Three counts of killing more than a limit of elk.
  • Two counts of hunting with artificial light.
  • Two counts of hunting during a closed season.
  • One count of shooting from a public highway.
  • One count of shooting from inside a vehicle.
  • Three counts of waste of game.
  • Three counts of theft of game.
  • Two counts of hunting while his hunting privileges were suspended. His hunting privileges were suspended for four years in April 2018 after he was convicted of running down antelope with his vehicle then killing them north of Roundup.

“The 1-800-TIP-MONT program is a toll-free number where people can report violations of fish, wildlife or park regulations,” Montana FWP says. “Callers may remain anonymous.”

“It is similar to the well-known Crimestoppers program and offers rewards for information resulting in conviction of persons who abuse Montana’s natural, historic or cultural resources.”