JACKSON - After a lengthy investigation and a two day jury trial, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department reports the successful conviction of an Etna man for the illegal shooting of a grizzly bear near Moran in the fall of 2012. Joe B. Conger shot and killed the grizzly bear on Sept. 30, 2012, while hunting on Mount Randolph north of Moran.
While registering the bear with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, it was determined that Conger had in factkilled a grizzly bear. After an interview by Afton game warden Todd Graham, the hide and skull were seized and the case was carried out in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as grizzly bears are a federally protectedanimal. Upon concluding the investigation, it was decided the case would be prosecuted by the state and charges were filed through the Teton County Attorney’s Office, where Conger was charged with taking a grizzly bear withouta license.
Still not convinced the bear he had killed was a grizzly, Conger pled not guilty to the charges and a jury trial was requested. A hide and hair sample from the bear was submitted to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in Laramie for DNA analysis. The results confirmed that it was indeed the hide and hair of a grizzly bear. A two-day trial ensued that called several Game and Fish employees to the stand. However, after just a 30 minute deliberation the jury handed down a guilty verdict.
Teton County Circuit Court judge, James L. Radda, sentenced Conger to a fine of $2,500 plus $40 court costs andone year unsupervised probation. In addition, Conger’s hunting and fishing privileges were suspended for one year in Wyoming and 38 additional states that are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact.
“It is not often that a wildlife case goes to a jury trial, but when it does, it becomes a much more in-depth process for all who are involved,” said Graham. “The successful prosecution of this case was theresult of great cooperation and hard work by a number of very dedicated people. We especially extend our gratitude to the Teton County prosecutor’s office and Judge Radda, for their commitment to enforcing our wildlife laws.”
(Contact: Mark Gocke (307) 733-2321)