Poacher gets jail time, tipster gets reward

by OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Staff

ELGIN, Ore. – A judge sentenced a poacher to ten days in jail, fines, probation, weapon forfeiture and license suspension for shooting a branch bull elk on opening day of deer season in the Wenaha unit last Fall, according to authorities.

Cody Murrill, 42, of Elgin, appeared in Union County Circuit Court on Jan. 20, 2023, and pleaded guilty to poaching charges after admitting to OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers that he had intended to poach a cow elk for the meat, but mistakenly shot a bull as darkness set in on Oct. 1, 2022. He then left the bull to waste.

Hunters who came across the carcass on Oct. 3 notified OSP F and W Troopers of their discovery.

Troopers investigating the crime identified Murrill's truck after reviewing footage from area game cameras. When they interviewed him at his home, Murrill denied having anything to do with the incident. But later that evening he contacted OSP F and W Troopers to confess to the crimes.

Murrill told Troopers he intended to poach a cow elk, and mistakenly shot the large 5x6-point bull in near darkness. He said he abandoned the carcass, intending to recover the meat and antlers later that night. When he returned well after dark, the carcass was partially scavenged. Fearing wolves in the area, Murrill abandoned the carcass again. He said he returned the next day to remove the antlers but was unable to do so because he broke his saw. Leaving a game animal to waste is also a crime.

In addition to jail time and a one-year license suspension, Murrill received one-year probation, according to Union County District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel. He also forfeited his .308 rifle with scope, likely worth about $1,400 and paid $440 in fines.

OSP F and W Sergeant Chris Hawkins, who collected evidence in the case and confiscated the rifle for ballistics testing, said the jail time was appropriate.

"The ten days in jail is more jail time than we typically see in fish and wildlife cases, which is one positive outcome of this sentencing," Sgt. Hawkins said, citing shortages of both jail space and resources for prosecuting wildlife crimes. "It's a result of DA offices being overrun, which leads to fish and wildlife cases not taking a priority."

The person who reported the incident to OSP F and W had a choice of receiving either $500 cash or four hunter preference points. They chose the hunter preference points, which will allow them a better chance of drawing an opportunity to hunt in the future.

The Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line incentive program is successful, according to Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) President Steve Hagan. Sgt Hawkins and Hagan agree that when people pay attention to their surroundings and report suspicious incidents, it helps solve crime.

We agree that eyes in the woods are key to acquiring evidence in order to make cases and I'm glad preference points were given in this case," Hagan said, "That method of reward has proven to be very effective with regards to the gathering of evidence."

The incident happened on opening day of deer season, with bull elk season in the area yet to come. A poacher removed an animal that would have otherwise contributed to legal, legitimate uses of Oregon's natural resources according to ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw.

"Poachers steal from all Oregonians," Shaw said, "whether that is from a legitimate hunter who paid fees to hunt, or a hiker or photographer who missed the experience of seeing that animal."

Photo available: https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/images/2023/032723_elk.jpg

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. Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information. Yvonne.L.Shaw@odfw.oregon.gov.

If you know of or suspect other crimes against fish wildlife or habitat, please report to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line. 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677) from a mobile phone. Or email: TIP@osp.oregon.gov.

More Reports

OR Department of Fish & Wildlife Reports
for Thursday, March 23rd, 2023
ODFW Recreation Report
Grande Ronde River: Anglers have been catching steelhead on the Grande Ronde River
Hat Rock Pond: Hat Rock Pond will be stocked during the week of March 20
McNary Channel Ponds: Kids’ fishing derby is planned on Saturday, March 26
Umatilla River: To date there have been 1,595 steelhead counted at Three Mile Falls Dam
Wallowa Lake : Boat anglers have been out recently and have reported catching both kokanee and lake trout
Wallowa River: Steelhead fishing has been quite good on the Wallowa River
Haystack Reservoir: The reservoir is currently 63 percent full
Prinevile Reservoir: Prineville Reservoir is slowly filling but still very low at 15 percent full
Rock Creek Reservoir: Rock Creek Reservoir is scheduled to be stocked this week
Blue River Reservoir: The reservoir level is extremely low
Fall Creek Reservoir: Has not been stocked due to extremely low reservoir levels
Foster Reservoir: The reservoir is slowly being refilled for the summer and has come up a few feet over the last week or so
Santiam River ( North Fork) : River is currently running around 2,800 cfs at the gauge in Mehama
Santiam River (South Fork): Currently flows are around 2,000 cfs at the Waterloo gauge as of March 21
Willamette River: River visibility was poor last week and not much effort
Alsea River: This fishery has been fair to good over the last week
Kilchis River: The Kilchis still fishable but will be getting low by the weekend
Miami River: The Miami is getting back on the low side but is still fishable
Necanicum River: Will be getting back on the low side this week but is still fishable
Nehalem River: The lower Nehalem is still high but has good color
Nehalem River- North Fork: The North Fork is a little low, but still fishable and should be through the week
Salmon River: The river is low and clear and fishing pressure has been consistent
Siuslaw River: The colder temps have made the Siuslaw challenging but conditions have remained fair
Trask River: Trask River Fishing Report
Wilson River: Steelhead fishing was good on the Wilson last weekend
Yaquina River: Fishing has been fair and should be good
Applegate River: River is back in shape with some color
Ben Irving Reservoir: Warmwater fishing should be picking up on warmer days
Chetco River: Anglers still have a couple weeks before the river closes to fishing April 1
Coos River: There was a small run of steelhead that pushed upstream on the Coos Basin
Coquille River: The last rain brought some new winter steelhead up the South Fork Coquille and North Fork
Emigrant Reservoir: Emigrant is 34 percent full
Fish Lake : Fish Lake is at 43 percent full
Galesville Reservoir: The level at Galesville is still rising quickly
Howard Prairie Reservoir: Howard Prairie is at 19 percent full
Hyatt Lake: Hyatt has started to fill and is 17 percent full
Illinois River: River conditions should be good through the weekend
Lake Marie: Lake Marie was stocked with trout last week and fishing should be good
Rogue River- Lower: The first spring Chinook of year were picked up last week
Rogue River - Middle: Current flow is around 3,400 cfs
Rogue River- Upper: The release from Lost Creek Reservoir is in the 1,000 cfs vicinity
Sixes River: Fishing conditions have been near perfect
Umpqua River: We have confirmed reports of Chinook being caught on the Umpqua mainstem
North Umpqua River: Relatively fewer steelhead have been moving over the dam
South Umpqua River : Steelhead fishing has been decent on the South Umpqua
Winchuck River: River conditions have been near perfect for steelhead fishing

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