SOUTHERN UTAH — The mayor of Hurricane City was booked into jail on charges of aiding or assisting in a wildlife violation that was allegedly committed on the opening day of the general season rifle hunt on the mayor’s property in Kane County.
Mayor John Wayne Bramall – whose term of office as the chief executive of Hurricane City runs from January 2014 through December 2018 – was voluntarily booked into the Kane County Jail Oct. 27 and released the same day, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Capt. Mitch Lane.
“The case involves (Bramall) and two other individuals who we believe illegally took two deer,” Lane said. “Illegal because the permits that the other two individuals had were not valid for the unit in which the deer were actually killed or taken.”
Two deer, including one that qualifies as a trophy deer, were allegedly illegally killed Oct. 22 by two men identified as Gordon Wesley Marble, 58, and John Wesley Marble, 29, both of West Point. The two men were booked into the Kane County Jail Oct. 22 and released on bail Oct. 23.
The state is broken up into various Cooperative Wildlife Management Units, Lane said, adding that hunting permits are issued for specific units and are only valid on the respective units. The units are hunt areas consisting of mostly private land that have been authorized for the specific purpose of managing and hunting certain big game species.
The program is an effort by the Utah Wildlife Board and the Division of Wildlife Resources in which landowners have an incentive to keep their private range and forest lands as wildlife habitat instead of developing them, while sportsmen who have been issued permits have more opportunities to take an animal, with fewer hunters to compete with.
“In this case,” Lane said, “the two individuals possessed Zion Unit permits and these deer were harvested on the Paunsaugunt deer unit.”
Lane said he was unfamiliar with the area where the alleged offense occurred and that he was unsure where the boundary is between the two units.
“Boundary-type mistakes are sometimes made,” Lane said, “but this unit-by-unit hunting style or system has been in place for several years and we continue to educate people about knowing their unit boundaries and staying within their unit boundaries.”
While Lane acknowledged that boundary mistakes do happen, he said hunters are encouraged to notify the Division of Wildlife Resources immediately when a mistake of this sort is made.
“We can’t always say what the end result is going to be, but it’s always better than if people choose not to report it to us,” Lane said, “and then later someone else does and we open an investigation and find out ourselves, rather than the person or people coming to us voluntarily; you know, it’s just a different – we handle both cases differently.”
As the case is still under investigation, Lane said he could not provide the details of how officials were made aware of or determined the men had illegally killed the deer.
“That’s where we’re not going to get into a whole lot of detail at this point,” Lane said, “but some of our officers in the area had reason to believe that these deer were taken on the day in question and reason to believe that they were taken unlawfully, and a stop was made.”
Gordon and John Marble were the only ones present when the stop was made, Lane said, at which time both men were arrested.
“It’s believed Mr. Bramall was present earlier when the alleged violation took place, but he was not present at the time the vehicle was stopped so he was not arrested on that day,” Lane said. “But, through some agreements, (Bramall) voluntarily later went in and was booked and released at the Kane County Jail after learning that we were pursuing charges.”
Gordon Marble was booked on one third-degree felony count of poaching trophy wildlife, while John Marble was booked on a class A misdemeanor count of wanton destruction of wildlife. Bramall was booked on a third-degree felony count and class A misdemeanor count of aiding or assisting in a wildlife violation.
According to Utah Statute 23-20-23, it is unlawful for any person to aid or assist any other person to violate any provisions of the Wildlife Resources Code of Utah or any rules or regulations promulgated under it.
Anyone who aids or assists another person in the commission of a violation of the Wildlife Resources Code of Utah, may be punished with the same penalty as if they had committed the offense.
As of Monday, no formal charges had been filed against Bramall or the other two men he is suspected of assisting in the wildlife violations.
“We’re still trying to complete our investigation, get our report completed and get those charges screened with the county attorney and that’s who ultimately decides who’s going to be charged with what,” Lane said Monday.
As this report is published, Kane County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Van Dyke did not respond to numerous requests for comment regarding the case. It is unclear whether the County Attorney’s Office plans to pursue charges in the matter.
Both Bramall and his attorney, Ryan Stout, did not respond to requests for comment.
“Because Utahns value wildlife so highly, convicted poachers face steep consequences,” according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. “In addition to paying fines and restitution, poachers may also face jail time, the confiscation of hunting equipment and the loss of hunting and fishing privileges in multiple states.”
Fines and restitution
When someone is convicted of illegally killing or possessing protected wildlife, they often must make restitution payments, according to the DWR. These payments go into the “Help Stop Poaching Fund,” which pays rewards to hunters who help catch and convict poachers.
The Utah Legislature has set the following amounts as minimum restitution for Utah’s trophy animals:
- $30,000 for bighorn sheep – desert or Rocky Mountain
- $8,000 for deer – 24-inch antler spread or larger
- $8,000 for elk – with six points on at least one side
- $6,000 for moose or mountain goat
- $6,000 for bison
- $2,000 for pronghorn
If DWR officials determine a poacher’s crime is intentional or reckless, he or she may lose the right to hunt and fish in Utah and other states. Utah is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which is an agreement among all but two states in the nation to honor each others’ decisions to deny licenses and permits to poachers.
- Wildlife Resources Code of Utah 23-20-23
- Rule R657-37 – Cooperative Wildlife Management Units for Big Game or Turkey
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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