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Idaho Falls man loses hunting privileges for life

| April 15, 2010 9:00 PM

Shooting five elk in one day has cost an Idaho Falls man his privilege to hunt for the rest of his life - not only in Idaho, but each of the 33 member states of the Wildlife Violator Compact. On March 22, 2010, Jerry Ferguson, 54, pleaded guilty in Seventh District Court in Bonneville County to a felony charge of unlawfully killing five cow elk. In addition to the lifetime license revocation, Ferguson was ordered to pay $7,500 in civil restitution, plus court costs and serve 60 days in jail. A five-year formal probation was also imposed, with one to three years in prison for violation of the terms of probation.

Shooting five elk in one day has cost an Idaho Falls man his privilege to hunt for the rest of his life - not only in Idaho, but each of the 33 member states of the Wildlife Violator Compact.

On March 22, 2010, Jerry Ferguson, 54, pleaded guilty in Seventh District Court in Bonneville County to a felony charge of unlawfully killing five cow elk. In addition to the lifetime license revocation, Ferguson was ordered to pay $7,500 in civil restitution, plus court costs and serve 60 days in jail. A five-year formal probation was also imposed, with one to three years in prison for violation of the terms of probation.

On the morning of Dec. 5, 2008, Ferguson killed an elk and tagged it with Rebecca Keller's tag. Later the same day he killed another elk, but he didn't stop there. He continued to hunt and in one last barrage of bullets, killed three more elk. Ferguson fired 27 shots that day, killing five elk. To make matters worse, Ferguson didn't field dress any of the last four elk he killed and left them on the mountain overnight. Although two of the four elk he killed that evening were recovered the next day, they all spoiled because of a lack of proper care.

"Jerry Ferguson's actions that day showed a total disregard for wildlife laws and a complete disrespect for one of the big game animals that makes Idaho a place where sportsmen want to live," Senior Conservation Officer Ryan Hilton said.

Several family members were also implicated in the crime by recovering, tagging and transporting the unlawful elk. Rebecca Keller, 55, of Idaho Falls; Gerald Ferguson, 74, of Idaho Falls; Eric Ferguson, 26, of Rigby; and Tilliya Ferguson, 20, of Rigby were all charged in connection with their involvement in the incident.

In Lemhi County Magistrate Court, Rebecca Keller pleaded guilty to transferring her elk tag and received a two-year revocation of hunting privileges and a $300 fine plus court costs.

Gerald Ferguson pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting in the commission of a felony and received a three-year revocation of his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges and a $750 fine plus court costs.

Tilliya Ferguson pleaded guilty to transferring her tag and received a one-year revocation of her hunting, fishing and trapping privileges and a $250 fine plus court costs.

As part of the plea agreement with the others involved, charges against Eric Ferguson were dismissed.

Perhaps the most significant consequence of all is that Keller, Jerry Ferguson, Gerald Ferguson, and Tilliya Ferguson, are prohibited from possessing a firearm in the field and excluded from camps during hunting season for the duration of their respective hunting license revocations.

"I applaud both courts with their decision to keep those involved out of the field while revoked," Hilton said. "Fines and penalties are one aspect of sentencing, but keeping individuals from hunting camps and carrying firearms in the field is a way of delivering a strong message to the public that this type of behavior from hunters will not be tolerated."

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