ST. GEORGE – Bagging a bighorn sheep in Southern Utah last year while using an illegally-obtained hunting license has cost an Arizona hunting guide his hunting privileges and over $30,000.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reported Monday that Larry Altimus, of Pearce, Arizona, was found guilty of wanton destruction of protected wildlife, in this case a trophy desert bighorn sheep, which is a third-degree felony in Utah.
The verdict was handed down from an eight-person jury in Kane County in June 2017, according to the DWR. Testimony given during a three-day court hearing detailed how Altimus obtained a Utah resident hunting license through fraudulent means.
Each year, hunters apply to the state for big game hunting tags. When they do not get a tag, those hunters get a bonus point toward the next year’s draw. The more points a hunter has, the better his or her chances of getting a tag next time.
By 2013, Altimus had earned 21 points for desert bighorn sheep in Utah, yet still had a slim chance of getting a tag as a nonresident.
This issue was worked around by Altimus claiming residency in Utah, said Mike Fowlks, director of the Utah DWR.
“He knew he had a good chance of drawing a permit reserved for Utah residents,” Fowlks said.
Altimus rented a house in Kanab in August 2013 and ultimately moved back to Arizona in June 2014. In between this time, he drew a Utah resident tag for bighorn sheep, thus gaining the hunting tag though fraudulent means, DWR officials said in the press release.
By the following October, Altimus bagged a bighorn using the ill-gotten hunting permit.
Illegally taking a trophy bighorn sheep in Utah is not only considered a felony, but also carries a $30,000 fine. Altimus was slapped with these penalties plus an additional $750 fine, as well as had his hunting privileges stripped in Utah and 46 other states for the next 10 years through the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact.
“If you lose your hunting privileges in one of the states,” Fowlks said. “You automatically lose your privileges in all of them. Altimus won’t be hunting in any of the 47 states for a long, long time.”
Utah DWR investigators also seized the head and horns of the illegally taken ram.
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