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'I had to pee' won't get you out of misdemeanor charge if you ignore hunter check station

Katy Moeller, The Idaho Statesman on

Published in Outdoors

BOISE, Idaho -- Some of the hunters who blew past an Idaho Fish and Game check station on Idaho 55 just north of Horseshoe Bend on Sunday might have thought they'd get home quicker.

That backfired for some -- as officers chased them down.

There were 17 scofflaws, about half of whom were charged with misdemeanors and will face fines from $25 to $1,000. Officers have heard all the excuses.

"I didn't feel like stopping. I had to pee. I didn't have anything, so I didn't want to talk to you," said Charlie Justus, regional conservation officer for Idaho Fish and Game.

"We had one car that saw the (check station) signs and tried to turn around and leave," Justus said, noting that he was caught. "He had a closed-season deer." Of the roughly 500 hunters that Fish and Game officials talked to Sunday, there were 59 who had deer, elk, fish and/or upland birds. The goal of this check station -- called an "enforcement check station" -- was to make sure hunters were following state laws, but biologists were there to collect important data on animals (species, sex, age, health, size) and samples to test for chronic wasting disease.

There are only one or two of these major enforcement efforts a year. The number of hunters and animals checked was down from past years, possibly because of snowy and rainy conditions in the mountains, Justus said. The yearling deer harvest was down; the harshness of last winter may have affected fawns.

Fish and Game officials found 36 violations during a 10-hour check station, which was done at an Idaho Transportation Department weigh station. They issued 16 tickets and 20 warnings.

"If people make honest mistakes and they're truthful about it, we write warnings all the time," Justus said.

Fish and Game officers need only "articulable suspicion" to pull over vehicles that don't stop at check stations. The main tipoffs: rifles, camouflage clothing and other hunting gear.

Other violations: failing to leave evidence of the sex, closed deer season, possession of animals harvested by other people, no hunting license, deer not tagged correctly and leaving no evidence of species.

"All of these things in the regulation books. None of this is a surprise to anybody," Justus said.

(c)2017 The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho)

Visit The Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho) at www.idahostatesman.com

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