WARNING: There are images at the bottom of this story of some of the elk that were killed in this case. They may be disturbing to some.
A formal apology to be posted in a local newspaper is part of the sentence imposed on a Harney County couple convicting of poaching five elk last year.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Chris Lardy and his wife, Stephanie, of Hines shot into a fleeing elk herd in December 2021. ODFW said a spike bull, two cows and two calves were left rotting in the sagebrush.
The couple must pay a combined $2,500 in fines and restitution. They’ll be suspended from hunting for three years and must take hunter education courses to get their rights back, ODFW said.
Chris Lardy must also spend six days in jail followed by 18 months probation. He also can’t take part in any hunting activities for three years, even as an observer or mentor.
Additionally, Chris Lardy was sentenced to write an apology to be published in the Burns Times-Herald.
Here is more from ODFW on how the Lardys were connected to this case
According to officials, witnesses hunting in the Juniper Unit in Harney County mid-day on Dec. 11, 2021 called the Turn In Poachers (TIP) line when they saw the driver of a blue and white suburban leave a spur road east of Hwy 395 to pursue a herd of about 100 elk through open ground and sagebrush. Witnesses said the driver stopped twice as occupants fired at least 30-40 shots into the fleeing herd. OSP F and W Troopers solved the case during a traffic stop the next day.
The Lardy couple and two passengers in their suburban had four tags for a late-season antlerless (cow) elk hunt. Stephanie and another person in their hunt group legally tagged two cow elk. They left five elk to waste and allegedly wounded another elk which OSP F and W Troopers did not find.
Evidence collected by OSP F and W troopers indicated the driver travelled about 300 yards through sagebrush, stopped to shoot into the herd, then continued in pursuit. After traveling about 400 additional yards through sagebrush, they stopped again to shoot into the herd, killing two cow elk and a calf. They gutted the two cows, loaded them into their vehicle, and left the area.
The following day, Troopers from the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division followed tracks left by the vehicle and scouted the area for killed and wounded animals. Troopers located carcasses of two cows, a calf, and a spike bull about 200 yards from tire tracks marking the first stop. They located a calf carcass about 60 yards from the second stop. All five elk had been left to waste and the meat was not salvageable. Troopers also found gut piles from the two legal cow elk.
Later that day, OSP F and W Troopers near Hwy 395, not far from where the incident occurred, conducted a traffic violation stop on a vehicle matching witness’ descriptions. The driver, Chris Lardy, told Troopers he and his passengers were on their way back from hunting the same area where their hunting group filled two antlerless elk tags the previous day.
When Troopers questioned him about multiple dead elk shot and left to waste the previous day, Lardy said he or one of his passengers had wounded an elk in the leg. No one in their hunting group had conducted a search for dead or wounded animals because they did not have time. Chris had returned to the area that day hoping to fill their hunting group’s two remaining tags.
Chris Lardy was convicted of taking a bull elk out of season and exceeding the bag limit of elk. Stephanie Lardy pled guilty to Aiding/Counseling in a game violation.
Oregon wildlife officials and hunting advocates say the actions listed above were unethical and showed a disregard for wildlife.
The case is frustrating to wildlife managers, hunters, and troopers. Not only is it a disregard for wildlife, but also for the safety of others in the field, according to OSP F and W Sergeant Erich Timko.
“Each hunter is responsible for every round they fire,” Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Erich Timko said in a statement, “And hunters have a responsibility to make a reasonable effort to track and retrieve potentially wounded wildlife. This is a prime example of when that is not done.”
Activities like this earn the ire of hunters across Oregon, according to Duane Dungannon, State Coordinator and Magazine Editor for the Oregon Hunters Association.
“Elk in Oregon’s high desert are amazingly elusive even in open country and a challenge for hunters to pursue, so it’s a terrible shame to see them needlessly wasted like this,” Duane Dungannon, State Coordinator and Magazine Editor for the Oregon Hunters Association, said in a statement. “Any ethical and responsible hunter knows that you only shoot at one animal, and then follow up on that animal. It’s not a video game.”