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Poachers will spend deer seasons in jail
A Springfield father and son are both barred from hunting for life
By Karen McCowan

The Register-Guard
In the words of a prosecutor, hunting season will now be jail season for a Springfield father and son who pleaded guilty Tuesday to more than 130 poaching-related charges.

Rory Donoho, 60, and Shane Donoho, 37, received the unusual sentence for leading what is purportedly Oregon's largest illegal hunting scheme, wiping out the deer population in a portion of the McKenzie Wildlife Management District near Vida.

Instead of presumptive prison terms of three years and 6½ years, respectively, for their racketeering, identity theft and poaching convictions, the Donohos must report to the Lane County Jail for a 90-day sentence on Oct. 1, the first day of deer season, in each of the next four years.

Prosecutor Jay Hall struck the plea deal with attorneys for the two men.

Lane County Circuit Judge Charles Carlson also stripped both men of their hunting privileges for life and placed them on five years of supervised probation.

He ordered Rory Donoho, convicted on 57 counts, to pay $20,000 in restitution to the state. He ordered Shane Donoho, convicted of 82 counts, to pay $42,000 in restitution to the state and to perform 400 hours of community service - including speaking to hunting groups and Boy Scout troops about his crimes. He also ordered him to undergo counseling for a hunting "addiction" as directed by his probation officer.

Hall said Shane Donoho admitted to killing more than 300 deer in the past five years. In most cases, Oregon hunters are limited to bagging one deer per season.

Hall said the father and son obtained other people's tags so they could appear legitimate if a game official caught them with one of their poached animals.

The prosecutor called the family's illegal hunting a generational pattern.

"Shane Donoho said the poaching goes back as far as he can remember, that he was taught by his father, Rory, who was taught by (Shane's) grandfather," Hall said in court. The day he and police served a search warrant at Rory Donoho's home, the prosecutor noted, a 6- or 7-year-old grandchild in footed pajamas offered to show the officers how to hunt a deer.

"He said, 'You've got to hold your spotlight in your left hand and kind of rest your rifle on top of it,'" Hall recounted. The prosecutor said he asked the boy why he needed a spotlight to hunt deer, and the child replied: "Because it's dark outside and they'll stop and look at you."

Hunting after dark is illegal.

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Officer Marc Boyd told Carlson that he and other wildlife troopers had long been "perplexed and disgusted" by the lack of deer in the Gate Creek and Hagen Mountain drainage basins where the Donohos poached their prey. He said wildlife surveys would turn up "several hundred deer a night" in nearby areas with similar topography, vegetation and water availability.

"But in the areas that the Donohos frequented during this long criminal conspiracy, you would have a hard time finding any deer," Boyd said.

The Donohos got caught, Hall said, when an associate in the poaching ring, Miguel Kennedy, helped them "bring the scheme to a new level by stealing his ex-girlfriend's identity in order to create a completely fake hunter profile." Kennedy was sentenced June 13 to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to identity theft, forgery and illegally transferring hunting tags in the case.

The ex-girlfriend "really blew this whole thing out of the water," the prosecutor said, when she went into an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office, puzzled by a "tooth envelope" she had received in the mail. The wildlife department sends such envelopes to hunters, asking them to mail back a tooth from the deer they reportedly killed, for analysis by researchers monitoring deer populations.

"She said, 'I stopped by to clear this up - I'm not a hunter. I've never been a hunter,' " Hall said.

He and Boyd also credited Ann Keimig, a technician in the department's Springfield office, with helping solve the case. Keimig studied the application for the deer tag issued in the ex-girlfriend's name. She found that everything but the phone number matched the woman's actual identifying information. Keimig cross-referenced that number with other applications in a database, and found it on a batch of tag applications traced to the Donohos.

Some of those tags were issued to six other defendants who still face misdemeanor charges in the case.

Boyd said Shane and Rory Donoho cooperated with authorities once they learned they were under investigation.

Shane Donoho's attorney, John Haapala, called his client "forthcoming in all regards," and noted that he had no prior criminal convictions. He also stressed that the Donohos never made any attempt to sell the poached meat. Rather, they intended to eat it or share it with friends, he said.

Rory Donoho's attorney, Brian Cox, noted that his client also had no previous convictions.

"This case also showcases flaws in the system, because you don't have to show any ID (when buying a tag) proving you are who you say you are," he said. "This is a huge loophole in the law that screams for a fix."

The Donohos also forfeited to the government 19 rifles, 1,600 pounds of processed and frozen game meat, and 106 pairs of trophy antlers valued at between $180,000 and $400,000. Boyd said the meat is not certified for human consumption because it wasn't inspected, but that he intends to provide it to zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers for feeding to carnivores there.

******* Limey.
1,601 Posts
Throw away the key, tossers. When I was managing deer herds back in the UK, the total disrespect that the organized poaching gangs had for anyone or anything was truly incredible.
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