Hunter Bags Reward for Busting Gate-Busters

A version of the following story also appearred in the Spokesman-Review on December 5, 2012.

FB National AdGRANGEVILLE, Idaho — The national conservation group Backcountry Hunters & Anglers recently paid a $500 reward to an Idaho bear hunter who provided the information game wardens needed to cite unethical hunters using All-terrain vehicles in habitat protected from motorized traffic.

The case dates back to spring of 2011, when Ted Koch and two friends were hunting for black bears on the Nez Perce National Forest. They planned to hike into an area where roads had been closed to vehicles, but hike-in hunters were allowed.

As they hiked in, they observed hunters driving around the gate with all-terrain vehicles. They also found bait stations the hunters had left behind.

“We planned to enjoy a quiet evening looking for bears,” Koch said. “Instead, the evening was shattered by noise and exhaust where it did not belong.”

Koch lived in Boise at the time of the hunt, but has since moved to Reno, Nev. He pointed out that he and his hunting partners own dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles, but stay within the bounds of the law.

“Hunters and wildlife alike need some places entirely apart from the noise and disturbance of motor traffic,” Koch said. “Owning an ATV does not mean you can re-write the rule book.”

Koch noted the license plate numbers of the hunters’ vehicles, took GPS readings, recorded the date and time and wrote detailed descriptions of the riders. He reported the incident to Roy Kinner, a senior conservation officer from Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Grangeville.

“Mr. Koch gave us exactly the kind of information we needed to launch a successful investigation,” Kinner said. “I don’t usually get that kind of high quality information. It was just priceless.”

In the end, three hunters pleaded guilty to the road closure violations and were fined $500 each. Other charges of leaving bear bait too close to a stream were dismissed.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a national group of outdoorsmen and –women who value hunting and fishing in the peace and quiet of natural conditions. BHA has a dedicated reward fund for aiding the conviction of law-breakers who abuse public hunting and fishing areas with motorized vehicles.

“Across the country, we hear from hunters and anglers whose stalks are ruined or fishing holes trashed out by illegal riders on All-terrain vehicles and are sick of it,” said Holly Endersby, BHA acting director, of Pollock, Idaho. “We thank hunters like Ted Koch and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game for protecting the rights of all law-abiding hunters.”

Endersby said the incident was the first time the reward has been given in Idaho, although it has been given elsewhere.