Herrera found guilty of poaching charges

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — After a three-day long trial in Sheridan Circuit, Clayvin Herrera has been found guilty of knowingly taking antlered, horned or trophy game during a closed season, and accessory after the fact in Wyoming in January of 2014. In closing arguments this morning, Sheridan County Deputy Attorney Christopher LaRosa said that among all the elements the state had to prove, the only one really in question was whether the killing of the elk happened in Wyoming. "Did it happen in Sheridan County, Wyoming? ... That is the sole, remaining question," LaRosa said, after noting that Herrera agreed he shot and killed the elk in January 2014. The state boundary line is along the 45th parallel, LaRosa said, and a Game and Fish investigation in the summer of 2014 showed all kill sites were south of that line by approximately a mile. There is a fence along the line, a boundary marker and USFS markers along the border, he said, delineating the boundary between the Bighorn National Forest and the Crow Reservation. As to Herrera's defense that he thought he was on Crow land, LaRosa said mistaken belief or ignorance of the law is not a defense. "In Wyoming, Wyoming laws apply," LaRosa said. In closing arguments by the defense, Kyle Gray of Billings law firm Holland and Hart noted the absence of any testimony from the Bighorn National Forest on the boundary line, and said that reliance on Game and Fish understanding of the boundary did not prove its existence at the 45th parallel. Furthermore, she said any fence along the said border is maintained by grazing permit holders in the area, and is not an official marker maintained by federal officials. "Where is the Forest Service employee to tell you where the boundary is? It is the glaring, missing piece," Gray said. Herrera, a game warden for the Crow Tribe, went hunting that January day in 2014 with the intent to secure food for his family, and voluntarily came to Wyoming for this trial to "clear his good name," Gray said. Herrera "had no intent to go into Wyoming," the elk started the day on the Crow Reservation and it was a snowy day when the animals were killed. Feature image: John Hughes with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ferret Recovery Program releases a black-footed ferret on the Crow Nation in Montana, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, with Crow Tribal member Clayvin Herrera and his three daughters watching. USDA photo by John Steuber. Flickr #dally #news