Riverton man sentenced for harassing pronghorn with ATV


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Riverton man sentenced for pursuing pronghorn with ATV

Image by Stan Harter

Lander - On February 4, Mick Albright, 22, of Riverton, Wyoming pled guilty to two charges in Riverton’s Ninth District Circuit Court to harass / pursue pronghorn antelope from a motor vehicle and littering. 

The incident occurred on March 10, 2014 when six young adults were out with two all terrain vehicles (ATV’s) on Bureau of Reclamation and Wind River Reservation lands in the Madden Draw area north of the Riverton airport near the Paradise Valley Road.  The group came upon a small herd of pronghorn antelope and one ATV, driven by Albright and carrying three passengers, decided to pursue two doe antelope.  Albright started chasing the animals on a two track road and then turned into the sagebrush and pursued the animals at high speed cross-country.  One of the passengers took a video of a portion of the chase and posted it to their Facebook page. 

After viewing the Facebook post, concerned citizens started calling the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Wyoming Game and Fish Department to turn in the illegal harassment and off road travel violations.   Game and Fish Wildlife Investigator Scott Browning, Riverton Game Warden Brad Gibb, and BLM Ranger Tom Howe, cooperatively followed up on the report and conducted an investigation with close coordination with the Wind River Tribal Fish and Game.

A search warrant resulted in officers obtaining the full length video of the chase that showed Albright pursuing the two does at high speed through the sagebrush with the animals running hard, leaping over sagebrush plants, and frequently changing directions to avoid and escape the ATV.  It appeared the ATV was as close as twenty yards from the animals at one point. The occupants of the ATV could be heard laughing and yelling in the background.  The officers were able to back track the entire chase route and found that Albright had chased the two does at least 643 yards.

Wildlife Investigator Browning believes there is a big difference between when a pronghorn chooses to run and when forced to run with an unshakeable threat on its tail.  “I do not know if there is a difference physiologically between the two types of stress and runs, but I certainly know that from an ethical perspective, big game animals in late winter should not be run if possible.  Multiple events of stress could certainly be detrimental to an individual animal”.

Circuit Court Judge Roberts sentenced Albright to $540 for the harassment charge and $220 for the littering charge in fines, court costs, and victim’s compensation costs.  In addition, Albright had his hunting privileges suspended for all of 2015 in Wyoming and 43 reciprocal states.

Please report wildlife violations, many cases are solved due to the publics’ tips.  Poaching reports may be made to the "STOP POACHING" Hotline: 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847) or 1-307-777-4330 for out-of-state "STOP POACHING" calls only.Violations may also bereported at regional offices, by sending a text to 847411 (TIP411) with WGFD as the first word of the message, or on-line athttp://gf.state.wy.us/wildlife/enforcement/stoppoaching/submitTip.aspx.