‘Pinedale Poacher’ returns to Jail
by Wyoming Game & Fish
November 19, 2006
(Pinedale) - Landen Wisell, who became known locally as the "Pinedale Poacher" is once again behind bars in the Sublette County Jail. On Wednesday, November 15, Wisell appeared before the Honorable Judge Nancy Guthrie to face charges of violating his probation after being convicted of killing deer, moose and antelope in the Pinedale area in the summer of 2004.
In July 2004, Wyoming Game and Fish Wardens, Dennis Almquist and Herb Haley, began investigating the deaths of three mule deer found shot and left in the town of Pinedale. All three deer had been shot with a bow, left where they died and appeared to be killed only for the thrill of killing them.
The investigation eventually revealed that Landen Wisell and Cody Callison had illegally killed 4 mule deer, one bull moose and one buck antelope in June and July of 2004 in what Wardens Almquist and Haley described as one of the "most egregious poaching sprees" either had investigated.
Both suspects were arrested and convicted on numerous charges, including a felony charge of destroying state property, which in this case was the wildlife. According to state statutes deer, moose and antelope are the property of the State of Wyoming and are valued at more than $1000, making their destruction a felony.
In February 2005, Wisell pleaded guilty to felony destruction of state property, knowingly killing a bull moose without a license, knowingly killing a horned antelope without a license, 2 counts of killing a deer out of season, and 2 counts of wanton destruction of deer. He received a deferral on the felony charge, but received $15,110 in fines, $7,500 in restitution, 4 years in jail and 9 years of probation. Judge Guthrie ruled $9,000 of the fines, along with all but 60 days in jail, be suspended. In addition, Wisell's privileges to hunt, fish and trap were suspended for 15 years.
The court agreed to defer the felony charge if Wisell complied with all the conditions of his probation for 5 years. If he completed his probation, the felony would be permanently stricken from his record. While on probation, Wisell was forbidden from taking any wildlife, possessing any equipment that could be used to take wildlife, accompanying anyone who was taking wildlife, and could not acquire any new wildlife parts.
Less than a year after Wisell's sentencing, wardens and investigators in Ohio began investigating Wisell for possible hunting violations in Ohio. "I was surprised when I got the call from Ohio," said Pinedale Game Warden Haley. "Landen shouldn't have been hunting at all, let alone violating Ohio's hunting laws. With the possibility of being a convicted felon, along with all the jail time and fines that were suspended, it surprised me that he violated his probation so soon after being sentenced. He was given a second chance and he chose to ignore that chance."
In September 2006, the Sublette County Attorney's Office filed a motion to revoke Wisell's probation, alleging that he violated several conditions of his probation, including taking wildlife, possessing equipment that could be used to take wildlife, and acquiring new wildlife parts.
On Wednesday, November 15, 2006, Wisell again stood before Judge Guthrie and admitted he had hunted, killed a deer in Ohio and had possessed hunting equipment, all in violation of his probation.
After hearing the testimony and arguments, Judge Guthrie revoked Wisell's probation, which included revoking the earlier deferral on the felony charge, and sentenced him to serve 2 to 4 years in the state penitentiary in Rawlins. In a "split sentence", Guthrie suspended the 2 to 4 years in Rawlins and then sentenced him to serve 6 months in the county jail starting immediately.
As a result, Wisell is now a convicted felon, which prevents him from possessing any firearms, voting, getting federal aid, along with other ramifications. He will continue on probation after being released from jail and if he violates any condition of his probation again, he could be sent to the State Penitentiary in Rawlins.
According to Deputy Sublette County Attorney, Mike Crosson, "This should serve as a warning to others that the Wyoming Game & Fish Department will aggressively investigate, and the County Attorney's Office will aggressively prosecute, anyone who chooses to illegally poach our treasured wildlife resources".
The County Attorney's Office indicated they would continue to consider charging poachers with felony destruction of state property if caught committing such serious violations as killing antlered big game on winter ranges.
Wyoming Game & Fish