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Wyoming Couple Guilty Of Deer Baiting

Michael and Teresa Rinehart along with 30 of their clients have been pinned to a poaching investigation that began in 2011 by the Shoshone and Arapaho Fish and Game and was concluded with assistance from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

The Rinehart’s have been found guilty of Lacey Act violations and Wyoming Game and Fish violations due to the baiting of deer and subsequent illegal harvest of deer on their property adjacent to the Wind River Indian Reservation. $60,000 in fines have been issued and the Rineharts face suspended hunting privileges as well. Their 30 “clients” from 11 different states also face various charges. 

Now for my take… I can’t stand people like this. People who use and abuse our state’s wonderous resources to make a buck by calling themselves “outfitters”, all while giving legitimate guides and outfitters a black eye. People like the Rineharts are nothing more than poachers, plain and simple. They should also be treated as such. I don’t think $60k is enough of a fine and don’t get me started on self-supervised probation and suspension of hunting privileges. The Rineharts and others like them need to serve jail time and once they get out, community service, lots of it! 

Until we are willing to get tough on poachers, incidents such as this will continue. Enough is enough, we need stringent and severe, codified poaching sentencing guidelines. Anybody want to help me draft a proposal? I’m all ears. 




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  1. Orion-Cazadores

    At face value seems like the legal process is already working as they were caught and fined. The penalty piece is the subjective component ?
    They also lose hunting privileges.
    The extreme would be death sentences?
    Kinda a sticky subject when we (myself) want bear baiting back but then jump a band wagon to crucify idiots that violate State game laws when they baited.

    Then again I bet 99.5% of all deer shot in Texas are over bait ? How egregious is that ?

    They broke the law, got caught, fined and lost ability to hunt.

    Some places/States they take/confiscate everything u have during commission of the crime – like in Alaska ! Ur truck, guns, camper etc.

    The spectrum is wide but I trust the State got it right already.

  2. The only way to slow this problem down is by making it a nightmare for those that do get caught. Fines and loss of hunting privledges may prevent some but I think a minimum of a year in jail and then 500 hours of Community service would make anyone stop and think. If not, then they can do the time behind bars.

  3. 11 year investigation. Maybe they need to train their wardens. I closed 120 homicides and put 3 people on the row. That’s phuxing ridiculous use of resources.

    • Michael R. Cook

      I agree…the investigation was really dragged out….I assume if they had been called out on it the 1st year the fines would have been less and the crimes less severe….Which if STOPPING the action is the goal then it was wrong to drag it our so long.

    • Gerald Brunckhorst

      The issue with long wildlife poaching investigations comes from how the courts handle the evidence, not from the game wardens use and/or abuse of resources. In many clear cut cases the poacher(s) walk out of court smiling at “no charges.” Wardens need iron clad evidence to make the charges stick. So much more effort goes into accumulating evidence in the field, just ask anyone who fought poaching charges and lost. Wardens always go into court with not one hidden ace, probably all four and one more. They know how many judges want proof on top of proof on top of more proof on top of the allegations.
      I know these facts because of my long term friendships with wardens in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. In some situations the poaching ring(s) were so tight the warden who broke the cases befriended hunters and infiltrated the poaching camp(s). He acquired proper unarguable evidence to charge all the participants (a mayor, police officer, politician and county board member were among many charged in the large Idaho sting during in the 1980’s. The landowner who knew about and profited from the out-of-season poaching/guiding almost lost his entire ranch save for an obscure, outdated homestead law.
      Today the court systems are more strict. It can actually come down to what judge hears the case. I find this type of justice extremely lopsided. All poachers caught in the act should pay the penalty. The penalties should be real and fit the crime. Poaching is a crime against us all, not just the Fish and Game or the state.

  4. What kind of baiting was it? Was it like they do in UTAH where they bring in a truckload of apples? of a small salt block, or a water trough, etc.

  5. James vonWedell

    baiting is common in Kansas.I would venture a guess that 75% of the bow killed whitetail deer are shot over bait.I have never agreed with it and wish it was against the law, but thats me.Baiting is by no means hunting.

  6. Gerald Brunckhorst

    One year in Montana, I found a bait barrel for bears, loose salt all around a large spring and a permanent tree stand? (4×8 platform with rails, sleeping platform, carpeting, etc. on public land) where I usually placed a tree stand. Three live pine trees had been cut off at their stumps to make a shooting lane (unneeded as many lanes existed when the stand placement was properly chosen). The young gentleman was also using game cameras in various locations during the hunting season (before it became legal in Montana). The local game warden saw my photos (which he couldn’t use as evidence in court). He treated the situation seriously, hiking the two miles back with me and a buddy to see the evidence.
    The Warden didn’t get to see the bait barrel or the cameras which had been removed shortly after I confronted the hunter. Three of the warden’s cameras were concealed in the area. The warden watched the young man and his father long enough to pin them with poaching a trophy sized antelope on a private ranch while trespassing (the trophy size added a larger dimension of fines and lost privileges than the other violations I reported in the beginning). I find many wardens are smart in this way, knowing there may be a lot more to the hunters activities than we report to begin with. I love hearing when patient wardens gather evidence to pin poachers really well – and all those who join the activities!

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