Below is a news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. For 2022, Fiocchi partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.
Two Oregon men convicted of illegally guiding hunters in Wallowa County forfeited mules and gear, among other penalties, following a multi-state investigation. The case activated a new Turn In Poachers (TIP) reward program directed by the Oregon Outfitter Guide Association (OOGA), according to law enforcement.
David H Ravia, 69, from Dayton, and Caleb L Richmond, 48, from McMinnville, guided out-of-state hunters in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area for at least the last ten years, according to OSP Fish and Wildlife Lieutenant Ryan Howell. A complaint led to an investigation and subsequent charges in a case that spanned two years and stretched from Oregon to Ohio and Michigan.
Law enforcement officials served a warrant at Ravia’s home in Dayton and interviewed residents in Ohio and Michigan during the highly coordinated sting Aug. 27, 2019. At the same time, OSP F&W Troopers apprehended and served search warrants on Ravia and Richmond at a trailhead as they led a pack string of six mules carrying hunters and gear toward their remote camp (see image above), according to Lt. Howell.
The illegal guide activity included multiple counts of guiding hunters without having a guide license. Their clients were often from out-of-state, which elevated the case to the Federal level and involved U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services along with OSP F&W Troopers and the Michigan and Ohio Departments of Natural Resources. Along with multiple jurisdictions, the case involved a variety of investigation tactics including on-the-ground surveillance to determine methods and equipment involved in the crimes.
One of the pair’s tactics was to instruct clients to say they were just friends, not guides, if anyone asked. The complacency of their clients in following this instruction led to interviews with past clients in Michigan and Ohio, according to investigators who worked the case.
Licenses for guides serve several purposes, according to Cyndi Bolduc, Outfitter Guides Program Coordinator with the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), which has oversight of guide and outfitter activities. Guides must provide proof they are adequately insured and bonded, have basic First Aid and CPR skills, carry the required safety equipment, and agree to conduct themselves according to ethical and professional standards.
In July of this year, the OSMB started a new Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line reward program modeled after current programs managed by the Oregon Hunters Association and the Oregon Wildlife Coalition. Tipsters who call in illegal guide activity can earn $200 if their tip leads to an arrest or citation. In 2021, OHA handed out nearly $11,000 in rewards, and ODFW issued 178 hunter preference points for callers whose tips lead to an arrest or citation.
An annual Oregon hunting guide and outfitter license costs $150 for residents. Outfitters must provide a $5,000 surety bond if they accept pre-payments from clients. Those who skirt the rules skip out on paying license fees, and may reap other rewards, according to Bolduc. For instance, taking animals illegally may deprive legitimate guides and outfitters hunting in the same area. But remote camps and out-of-state clients can draw out investigations.
“Some of these cases resolve quickly, Bolduc said, “Others take officers’ dedication and time to make the case, but it is of huge value to us.”
OSP F&W Troopers close cases on a spectrum of timeframes, but they stick with it in hopes of outcomes like this one.
“Sometimes these cases take years due to the seasonal nature of guiding for big game hunts,” Lt. Howell said, “The important thing is that it was closed and this gives legal guides an equal playing field.”
On June 16, 2021, Caleb Richmond pled guilty to five counts of Fail to Register as an Outfitter/Guide. He must pay fines and serve 24 months bench probation, which includes a prohibition on hunting, guiding, and possession of firearms while camping; serve 80 hours of community service, and issue a letter of apology to all hunters and guides.
On April 6, 2022, David Ravia pled guilty to three counts of Fail to Register as an Outfitter/Guide. He must pay fines and serve 24 months bench probation, which includes a prohibition on hunting, guiding, and possession of firearms while camping; serve 80 hours of community service; issue a letter of apology to all hunters and guides. Ravia also forfeited the evidence seized for the case, including pack bags, a chainsaw and saddles. Eventually, two of six mules were definitively linked to the crime and seized. They are now the property of ODFW, where they might be used in the high lakes fish stocking program, according to ODFW wildlife biologist Phillip Perrine.
Tipsters who reported the guides’ illegal activities to OSP F&W Division each received a $200 reward after the two men were charged and convicted, according to law enforcement officials.
The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among state agencies, sportsmen and other conservationists, landowners, and recreationists to engage the public in combatting Oregon’s poaching problem. Our goal is to: Incentivize reporting on wildlife crimes through the TIP Line; Strengthen enforcement by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers; and Support prosecution in becoming an effective deterrent. The campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. For more information: https://dfw.state.or.us/stop-poaching/
(Photo credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)