A Wallowa man who went on a poaching spree has received a lifetime revocation of his hunting license and was sentenced to pay numerous other fines and fees after pleading guilty to wildlife offenses March 1 in Wallowa County Circuit Court.
Attorney Brandon Foy represented Michael Pendarvis, District Attorney Mona Williams prosecuted the case and Judge Thomas Powers presided.
The defendant’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Rose Johnston, and a friend, Robbie DeVore, were also allegedly marginally involved in some of the charges.
Pendarvis, 21, Wallowa, pleaded guilty to nine counts of various angling, trespassing, firearms and hunting violations, including hunting cougars with dogs.
As the DA read the charges and Judge Tom Powers received the guilty pleas of Pendarvis, Williams mentioned that the defendant’s cell phone as well as those of his cohorts had led to the current charges against the three. She added that when pursuing the charges, she took Pendarvis’ youth and his relative cooperation with law enforcement into consideration.
Williams said most of the charges were typical wildlife violations. However, one charge was particularly grievous, relating to the trapping and taking of a raccoon. She recounted in a halting voice that she had considered charging Pendarvis with animal abuse as well as the violations after viewing one of a number of cell phone videos.
After the defendant had trapped the raccoon in a cage, he set his hunting dogs upon the animal. The dogs, in a frenzy, tried to get at the raccoon as it spit and appeared “scared to death.”
“They’re not my favorite animals, but I wouldn’t treat any animal the way he allowed his dogs to treat that animal,” Williams said. When game officials asked what happened to the raccoon, Pendarvis replied he let the animal out of the cage, the dogs treed it and he shot it and “let the dogs have it.”
While making her sentencing recommendations, Williams recommended work crew rather than jail in order to pay his fines and suffer the consequences of his acts.
“This is a young man who needs to work and realize what it’s like to be an adult,” she said.
Foy said his client was seeking work to address the wrongs he had committed. He had also taken a hunter safety course and realized the error of his ways and no longer wished to indulge in wildlife violations.
He also noted his client’s cooperation with law enforcement, the resulting additional charges and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions. He did ask that the court not permanently revoke his client’s hunting license and take Pendarvis’ financial situation into account when issuing fines.
Powers mostly followed the DA’s sentencing recommendations. For the two counts involved in the raccoon incident, the judge imposed $200 in fines and restitution and the loss of trapping privileges.
The defendant was not so fortunate with an illegal steelhead he poached. The fish cost Pendarvis his fishing license for three years, five days of work crew and $750 restitution to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“The most expensive fish you’ll catch in your life,” Powers said. “This is serious business, as you’re finding out.”
A poached turkey netted him a lifetime revocation of his hunting license.
“This an extraordinary track record of violations,” Powers said. “It is particularly extraordinary that it came when you were on probation for wildlife violations.”
Powers had another surprise for the defendant: $1,000 restitution to the ODFW for the turkey.
A criminal trespassing fine garnered a $500 compensatory fine to the landowner. For the sum of his crimes, Pendarvis will serve 30 days on the county work crew, spend two years on supervised probation and cannot own a dog for five years. His fines and fees totaled $3,150. The judge summed up the incidents late in the hearing as he marveled over the amount of charges.
“You played the string out, and the string broke,” he said.
After the case, Williams spoke about the case.
“He just had no concept that there were hunting, fishing and trapping regulations and that they applied to him,” Williams said. She also noted that according to the state’s game officers, for every person they catch, numerous people and incidents related to the perpetrator are never known. “Wildlife cases are hard to catch people at.”
In Wallowa County, only three state troopers cover more than 3,000 square miles.
Although some of the charges were dismissed, Williams thought it important for Pendarvis to take responsibility.
“He needed to plead out to the hunting, plead out to the fishing and trapping violations so those privileges could be suspended,” she said. Williams added that getting Pendarvis to plead to the hunting violations was key to Pendarvis earning a permanent revocation of his hunting license.
“My experience with hunters is that I can recommend jail, and they will jump at that anytime,” Williams said. “I recommend license suspension, and they want to go to trial. That’s more important to them than jail time. It’s mind-boggling to me.”
The egregious nature of the crimes made the case a difficult one for Williams. It was her opinion that Pendarvis enjoyed killing animals for fun.
“He can’t seem to control this desire to kill,” she said.