3 Montana “Hunters” Unfathomably Receive No Jail Time & Weak Sentence For Illegally Killing A Mountain Lion In Yellowstone National Park

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Photo taken by Austin Peterson which was included in a National Park Service investigative report, Trey Junhke and Corbin Simmons pose with a mountain lion illegally killed in Yellowstone National Park. 

Three men charged with illegally hunting and killing a male mountain lion in the northern section of Yellowstone National Park on December 12, 2018, have received a sentence that has animal advocates outraged.

As per a statement by Yellowstone, court documents claim that Livingston residents, Austin Peterson, Trey Juhnke, and Corbin Simmons crossed the park’s marked boundary to hunt mountain lions. Each hunter admitted to shooting the lion and transporting the carcass back to their vehicle. Simmons then falsely claimed to have harvested the animal north of the park boundary in Montana. This affected the state’s quota system by denying a legal hunter the opportunity to “legally” harvest a lion, which we believe should be illegal regardless.

On Friday, May 3rd, 2019, Peterson, age 20, was ordered to pay approximately $1,700 in restitution and fees, and must serve three years of unsupervised probation, during which time he is banned from hunting, fishing, or trapping worldwide. Juhnke, age 20, and Simmons, age 19, received similar sentences at hearings in April 2019. All three pleaded guilty to the charges at prior court hearings.

No Jail Time? The crime committed by these “hunters,” which was revealed by their various “victory” posts beside the dead mountian lion on social media, warrants substantial time behind bars.

Under the Lacey Actit is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of U.S. or Indian law. This would include, interstate or foreign commerce of animals and plants that are possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law.

There must be more serious repercussions for not only breaking the law but for flagrantly flaunting the senseless killing of another species for a photo opportunity. It is deplorable that we allow this to take place.

Though seldom seen by the public, biologists estimate that 20-31 adult cougars reside year-round in the northern range; an average of 12-18 females and 8-13 males. These estimates are based on field surveys and statistical analyses conducted from 2014–2017. Biologists found higher estimates in the later years of the study. The numbers do not include kitten and sub-adult cougars which accompany a portion of the adult females each year.

If you witness a wildlife crime or have information about suspicious activity or wildlife takings in Yellowstone, call their 24-hour Tip Line at 307-344-2132. Callers can remain anonymous.

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