A Broken Bow man was sentenced to five years of probation during which he may not hunt, trap, or assist or be present with anyone engaged in those activities.
Logan Spanel, 30, received the sentence on Tuesday from United States Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson after he admitted to two misdemeanor counts of the illegal taking of wildlife in interstate commerce.
In addition to the sentence, U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly announced that Spanel will be required to pay a $7,500 fine and forfeited a custom 300-caliber bolt-action rifle with a Sig Sauer tactical scope and SilencerCo suppressor utilized in one of the unlawful hunts.
During a joint investigation by the Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Law Enforcement Division, it was determined that between November 2016 and November, 2017, Spanel, employed by Hidden Hills Outfitters, provided hunting and guiding services to Hidden Hills Outfitters clients.
During a number of hunts, Spanel guided and assisted clients in hunting activities which were in violation of Nebraska state law or regulation.
The violations included hunting with prohibited weapons, hunting and taking mule deer without a valid permit and on property without landowner permission.
In December 2016, Spanel used with a .17 caliber rifle to hunt and kill a 195-inch mule deer north of Brewster. Spanel killed the mule deer without a valid permit. At the time, Spanel was aware that he did not have a permit. An Hidden Hills Outfitters owner accompanied and assisted Spanel during the hunt.
Nebraska state law prohibits hunting or taking deer without first purchasing and possessing a valid permit and prohibits the use of center-fire rifles during the muzzleloader deer season.
Spanel later transported the deer in interstate commerce by enlisting another Hidden Hills Outfitters guide to deliver the trophy parts to a taxidermist near Palisade, Colorado.
In September 2017, Spanel, an owner of Hidden Hills Outfitters and a repeat Hidden Hills Outfitters client attempted to locate and recover a 190-inch mule deer.
The Missouri client shot and wounded the deer with archery equipment the prior evening north of Ogallala.
Without permission of the landowner, Spanel located, shot and killed the deer with a suppressed rifle after entering via an adjacent property.
A suppressed rifle is prohibited for use during the archery season.
The unlawful take of the mule deer qualified as unlawful sale and transport of wildlife in interstate commerce on the part of Spanel because the deer was intended to be transported to the client’s Missouri taxidermist.
Spanel’s sentencing is part of the ongoing prosecution of numerous defendants in regard to violations committed by owners, guides and clients of Hidden Hills Outfitters.
Twenty-seven defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced and ordered to pay a total of $248,048 in fines and restitution.
The violations include deer taken within baited areas; deer, pronghorn, and wild turkeys taken with weapons or firearms prohibited during their respective hunting seasons; deer taken during closed season hours, from the road, or without a valid permit; and mule deer taken within the Mule Deer Conservation Area.