The following is a press release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
ST. MARIES – Paul D. Coward of St. Maries was sentenced to months in jail, thousands of fines and a 10 year hunting revocation for various wildlife crimes.
In early 2021, Coward was charged with numerous misdemeanor and felony violations resulting from multiple executions of search warrants. They included: possession of drugs and paraphernalia, outfitting / guiding without a license, illegal possession of firearms, big game hunting over illegal bait, and count of possession of illegally caught wild animals. , that is, a mountain goat that he killed in Washington and that had been hiding in his house in St. Maries.
After nearly 23 years of complaints from concerned athletes about Coward’s illegal hunting and a targeted three-year investigation, Idaho Fish and Game investigators were able to gather the necessary physical evidence showing Coward was illegally using bait to attract and hunt big game and provide outfitting and guiding services without a license.
In addition to wildlife crimes, Coward, who was prohibited from owning firearms due to previous felony convictions, was also found to be in illegal possession of numerous firearms. Investigators said Coward admitted he knew what he was doing was illegal, but chose to continue baiting, hunting illegally and disregarding the license requirement for outfitting and guiding. .
On December 14, the 55-year-old coward was brought before First District Judge Scott Wayman in Shoshone County, where he pleaded guilty to several counts, including providing outfitting and guiding services without a license. , conspiracy to illegally provide such services, illegal hunting on bait, possession of illegally caught wildlife and illegal possession of firearms.
As part of the state’s proposed pre-trial settlement offer, the parties agreed to proceed directly to sentencing on the case. After more than an hour of argument in which both sides presented evidence and testimony, the court finally sided with the arguments made by local county prosecutor Benjamin Allen.
The judge ordered Coward’s hunting privileges revoked for 10 years in Idaho (as well as the 48 other member states of the Wildlife Violator Compact), and handed down a 5-year suspended prison sentence, obliging Coward to serve 90 days in the county jail. . The prison sentence will be served in 30-day increments in September 2022, 2023 and 2024 to ban him from being on the field during archery season when many of his violations have taken place.
As a financial repercussion, Coward was ordered to pay a total of $ 16,000 in fines, restitution and court costs, including a civil fine of $ 10,000 for the illegally possessed mountain goat.
Fishing and game law enforcement officials have said that the most serious and intentional cases of poaching are often the most difficult to resolve. These types of surveys are typically long and complex, but necessary to protect Idaho’s big game resources, while providing game management and recreation opportunities for law-abiding athletes in the community.
Through a collaboration that began with community councils and ended with state agencies working together to gather the facts and evidence necessary for successful prosecutions, this case demonstrates that justice can be served to those who fail to respect not Idaho’s wildlife laws.