Idaho judges rule on statute of limitations for wildlife.


Mar 11, 2001
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Judges rule on statute of limitations for wildlife.
Clock starts ticking when animal is illegally killed

Associated Press

BOISE -- Idaho's two-year statute of limitations for unlawfully possessing wildlife starts running when the wildlife is illegally killed, not when the possession is discovered, the Idaho Court of Appeals said.

The three-judge court, in a unanimous opinion, upheld the dismissal of criminal charges in Canyon County against Frank Maidwell for possession of antlers from a bull elk he killed illegally in October 1996.

Maidwell had a permit to hunt for antlerless elk, but admitted to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game officer in November 1996 that he had killed a bull elk and discarded the antlers.

No charges were filed even after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that leg bones from the elk were those of a bull.

Then in January 1998, the officer received information alleging that Maidwell still had the antlers.

The seven-point rack was discovered and seized from Maidwell's garage during a search, but no charges were filed until December 1998.

Maidwell moved to have the charge dismissed based on the statute of limitations having expired, and both Canyon County Magistrate James Schiller and 3rd District Judge Stephen Drescher agreed.

The state argued on appeal that the crime of unlawful possession of wildlife is committed anytime someone has in their possession the unlawfully taken wildlife or wildlife parts.

Based on that theory, the state said the two-year statute of limitations did not begin to run until the antlers were seized in January 1998.

The Court of Appeals, however, found that the crime is committed when the person comes into possession of the wildlife with the knowledge that it was taken illegally.

That meant the statute of limitations for Maidwell began on Oct. 26, 1996, when he knowingly shot and killed the bull elk.

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