Wyoming, Crow border discussed at trial; defense calls elk 'problem species'

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — On the second day of the trial of Clayvin Herrera, who is charged with knowingly taking antlered, horned or trophy game during a closed season, and accessory after the fact in Wyoming in January of 2014, Herrera's defense argued that the Wyoming/Crow Nation boundary may not be as solid a line as it appears to be. Kyle Gray of Billings law firm Holland and Hart questioned Dayton Game Warden Dustin Shorma's knowledge of historical and federal agreements with the Crow Nation, cited $85 million lawsuits over boundary disputes involving mineral royalties, and cited the Crow Boundary Settlement Act of 1994, both with and without the jury present this morning. "Do you understand as a part of your job that the Crow Tribe and the State of Montana are sovereign entities?" Gray asked Shorma. "Yes," he responded. In testimony Wednesday , Shorma said he reached out to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in his investigation of the poaching incidents, asking for help in reaching Herrera to issue citations in the summer of 2014. Gray asked him if he consulted the BIA about the any potential boundary issues along the border, and he said he did not, because he was unaware of any such issues. "I don't think that even if I had seen (documents presenting a possible dispute by Gray in court), I don't think it would have made a difference where the boundary was," Shorma testified. Shorma said that if he had been aware of boundary issues in 2014, he would have looked into those issues as a part of his investigation into the 2014 poaching incident. Gray asked how Shorma would have looked into those issues. "I probably would have started locally, with the Forest Service," Shorma said. "This boundary we are talking about encompasses the Forest." "So you would have talked to someone with the United States government?" Gray asked. "Correct," Shorma said. Hunting is allowed without season restrictions on land owned by the Crow Nation, and if the bull elk shot in January of 2014 were shot on Crow Nation land, Shorma agreed the taking of the animals would have been legal. After discussion of the boundary and investigation issues, Gray questioned Shorma about how the Wyoming Game and Fish sets its elk hunting seasons. She said elk could be considered a "problem species" because of damage to private property. Gray asked Shorma if he agreed elk are a "problem species" and he responded that he did not understand the term. Gray then asked if in Wyoming, the Game and Fish sets seasons so that more elk are hunted. Sheridan County Deputy Attorney Christopher LaRosa objected to the question, calling it "confusing and misleading." The trial continues this afternoon in Sheridan County Circuit Court. #dally #news