A savvy Wyoming Game and Fish warden tracked down two accused poachers of trophy-sized non-typical mule deer bucks by tracing the origin of litter left at the scene of a pair of wildlife crimes.
After discovering a can of Copenhagen chewing tobacco at one crime scene and an empty energy drink can at a second, Pinedale Warden Jordan Kraft was able to locate the convenience store where the alleged perpetrators acquired the items, reports the Casper Star-Tribune newspaper.
Through dogged investigative work, Kraft discovered that a surveillance camera at the Boulder, Wyoming, market captured images of Matthew Mulcare and Joel Newberry purchasing the chewing tobacco and drink, and leaving in a four-door tan Dodge pickup, which matched descriptions given by witnesses to the poaching, according to Kraft.
A credit card receipt from the store was used to identify the men by name, and Mulcare’s truck tires subsequently matched those from the scene of the crimes, which took place Nov. 12, Kraft said.
Investigating wardens discovered front and rear deer quarters and the head from one deer in a ditch behind Mulcare’s house in Moorcroft, along with shell casings and a bloody knife in his house. They also found a bag with blood on it in Newberry’s house that matched one in a photo taken of the deer in the back of Mulcare’s truck, according to the newspaper report. It is believed the second poached deer was not successfully recovered.
The two are scheduled to make their initial court appearances later in January.
Oddly, it was not the first time a Wyoming game warden collared poachers using litter as evidence in recent years.
Back in 2005, Cheyenne Game Warden Mark Nelson was notified by a local rancher that it appeared someone had dragged two deer from his field to the county road. Upon investigating the scene, Nelson found what was determined to be deer blood, as well as beer cans and beef jerky wrappers.
Nelson went to a nearby convenience store, where he inquired if anyone had purchased a specific combination of beer and beef jerky the previous afternoon. Not only did a clerk confirm such a purchase, but he also provided surveillance tapes of the customer.
As a result, Frank E. Brennan, 35, of Cheyenne, was charged with wanton destruction of a mule deer, taking a mule deer out of season and being an accessory to each of the charges. His nephew, Adam R. Brennan, 20, was charged with taking a mule deer out of season and also as an accessory to the charge. They were fined $820 each and were ordered to pay restitution to the state.