An Oregon man is banned for life from Crater Lake National Park after poaching wildlife - including a trophy elk - within the park, officials said.
Adrian Wood 44, was sentenced to five year's federal probation and ordered to pay $42,500 in restitution to the National Park Service for violating the Lacey Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office District of Oregon said in a Friday news release. The act bans the transportation and trafficking of wildlife.
"Our public lands are special places for both people and wildlife," James Ashburner, special agent of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in the news release. "The defendant's blatant disregard for the law caused great harm to the elk herd in the park."
The sentencing comes after years of Wood poaching within the park, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
In July 2014, law enforcement agencies received two reports that Wood was killing several deer and elk on the west side of the park, officials said. Oregon State Police received reports that he was poaching at night.
A month later, a trooper saw Wood and his son leaving the park at night and approached them, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"After speaking with Wood, the trooper located a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle outfitted with night optics beneath his truck," the Attorney's Office said. "Wood initially claimed the rifle was for bear hunting, but after the trooper pointed out that the rifle was not lawfully equipped to hunt any wildlife, Wood then claimed it was for personal protection."
Wood was convicted in state court and put on probation after the trooper cited him for possessing a firearm as a felon and seized the rifle.
In 2015, officials received more reports that Wood was poaching wildlife within the park, according to the Attorney's Office. National Park Service rangers found caracasses in the park, and on one occasion, found an elk skull, jaw and vertebrae, officials said.
"The remains were determined to be near a custom track log found on Wood's GPS unit," the Attorney's Office said. "Investigators later learned Wood entered and won second or third place in a Sportsman's Warehouse Big Bull elk hunting contest."
The investigation continued into 2016 when an Oregon State Police trooper found a carcass in the same area Wood had previously reportedly hunted elk, according to the Attorney's Office. The elk's head was sawed off and meat was removed from the body.
Wood later sent photos posing with the elk that matched the carcass, the Attorney's Office said.
"DNA analyses revealed that Wood possessed parts of at least 13 elk, 12 deer and one black bear, and the blood found on Wood's archery tag matched the DNA of the elk poached," the Attorney's Office said. "In total, investigators definitively linked six seized specimens to elk or deer poached by Wood in the national park in 2015 and 2016."
Wood was indicted by a federal grand just in May 2019 for violating the Lacey Act, and in August 2020 he pleaded guilty to the charge.