Jody Climer, the man who illegally set traps up Cache Creek this winter, was sentenced on Friday to 10 days in jail.
In a hearing in Teton County Circuit Court on Friday morning, Climer pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
As part of his sentence, Judge James Radda also took away Climer’s trapping privileges for 18 months.
Climer was cited in January for not checking his trapline within the state-mandated 72 hours and for failing to properly tag them.
Climer offered an explanation in court.
“I had two of my traps tagged,” he said. “I set some new ones and had tags on back order. I set everything in the general area, and I set them assuming it would be OK. I understand now that’s not correct and all of them needed to be tagged.”
Wyoming Game and Fish received a complaint about Climer’s trapline in December, which led to an investigation and Climer’s citations.
Climer, 27, said he has lived in Wyoming for six years and that he traps professionally to sell vests, hats and other items.
He said that when he set the traps, he alerted members of the community by making a post on Misty’s List, a Facebook page where regional residents buy and sell goods, although he posted under a fake name.
His traps were set up Cache Creek, a popular hiking, skiing and biking area for people and their dogs.
After setting the trapline, Climer said, he became busy at work “pulling doubles.”
“I wasn’t able to get to the traps in time,” he said. “I was going to pull them. I didn’t want an animal suffering or left in the traps. I was going to go undo my trapline, and I didn’t get a chance. I was late and was cited for failure to check.”
Game Warden Kyle Lash had been using a camera to do surveillance and cited Climer after confirming he wasn’t checking them every 72 hours.
Lash removed the trapline Jan. 7.
Climer’s attorney, Elisabeth Trefonas, said that her client has been cooperative and that it was more a misunderstanding than anything.
“These penalties seem harsh to me,” she said of Wyoming’s trapping laws in general.
But Teton County Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultman said Climer has an extensive criminal history, which is partly why the state asked for a 30-day jail sentence.
His past charges include domestic assault, statutory rape, reckless endangerment and driving without a license.
Hultman said that some of those charges are still pending in Tennessee and Idaho, and that Climer is still on supervised probation for a felony charge in Lincoln County from just last year.
“I discharged a warning shot at the ground,” Climer said about that crime. “I didn’t fire in the air or out toward anyone.”
Efforts to reach the Lincoln County prosecutor Friday for more information about the case were unsuccessful.
Lash said Climer’s sentence is appropriate.
“We really appreciate the prosecutors taking the time to look at wildlife violations,” Lash told the Jackson Hole Daily. “We do live in a great place here in Wyoming where we have so much wildlife and people are really passionate about it. It is nice to see what we think is a fair sentencing.”
The case received a lot of attention because of early publicity that stemmed from Climer’s post on Misty’s List, Lash said.
“This was such a controversial issue to begin with, with it starting on social media,” Lash said. “There were a lot emotions tied into this. The county attorney was pulled in a lot of directions, but I think they did a great job.”
In court Climer said he caught a fox in the trapline before the investigation started.
Lash said he couldn’t speak to whether or not that catch was legal or illegal, but he knows there was no animal activity on the trap after he was tipped off to the line.
Climer will serve 10 days in jail and six months of unsupervised probation, and he will pay $200 in fines.
The court didn’t say when Climer’s jail sentence will begin.
Climer lost his trapping rights for a year and a half, but not his hunting and fishing privileges.
“Hunting and trapping are perfectly legal,” Judge Radda said in court. “And a lot of it takes place in Wyoming. But you have to follow the rules.”