CHEYENNE, Wy. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma man has found himself in hot water with authorities halfway across the country.
Officials with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department say three men have been charged with more than 100 wildlife violations in one of the largest poaching cases in Wyoming history.
Investigators say it took them seven years and stretched across multiple states to bring the case to an end.
“Investigating and successfully prosecuting a case of this size and scope required years of effort by many individuals and agencies,” said Rick King, Game and Fish chief game warden. “Dozens of people worked hard to make sure that even though some of these violations occurred a decade or more ago, they would not go unpunished.”
Officials say Russell Vick, of Alabama; Robert Underwood, of Oklahoma, and David Underwood, of South Dakota, were convicted of numerous wildlife offenses and fined $171,230 and $131,550 in restitution.
The case began in October of 2015 when a game warden received a request from a hunter for an interstate game tag to accompany a deer head that was shipped to Vick for taxidermy work.
However, a database showed that Vick had a Wyoming address and that he purchased Wyoming resident hunting licenses for several years.
As the investigation continued, officials say they learned that Robert Underwood and David Underwood also purchased multiple Wyoming resident hunting licenses.
A federal search warrant was executed on David Underwood’s home in South Dakota, and Robert Underwood was interviewed at his home in Jones, Oklahoma.
Ultimately, Robert Underwood was charged with an array of charges that spanned multiple Wyoming counties.
Officials say he was charged with dozens of wildlife violations, including 35 complaints that occurred between 2003 and 2012 in Campbell County alone.
He was charged with illegally killing or possessing eight buck mule deer, three bull elk, a cow elk, a bobcat, a wild turkey, accessory to killing two bighorn sheep rams, and accessory to the illegal killing or possession of three buck mule deer, two bull elk, and pheasants.
He was also charged on multiple counts of making false statements on applications to procure Wyoming resident moose, bighorn sheep, wild bison, and mountain goat licenses for his son, David, and Vick.
In 2020, he pleaded no contest as an accessory to Vick’s illegal killing of two bighorn sheep rams. He was sentenced to $20,070 in fines, $10,000 in restitution, and had his hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges suspended for 10 years.
He also pleaded no contest to illegally killing two bull elk and a buck mule deer, and serving as an accessory to Vick’s illegal killing of a buck mule deer and a bull elk.
He was ordered to pay $25,990 in fines and $26,550 in restitution. He was sentenced to 50 days in jail and forfeited a bobcat mount. His hunting and fishing privileges were also revoked for life in Campbell County.
Vick was sentenced to around three years in prison, $113,125 in fines, and $87,000 in restitution. He also had his license suspended for 10 years in Weston County, and revoked for life in Campbell County.
David Underwood was ordered to pay $12,045 in fines and $8,000 in restitution. His hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges were revoked for five years in Weston County, and suspended for 15 years in Campbell County.