The recent alleged poaching of two bighorn sheep in Oregon has many hunters outraged, and not only because the sheep were illegally harvested, but also because the shooting took place near the busy Interstate 84 in Biggs Junction. Oregon State Police arrived at the scene on April 3 and arrested two men after motorists reported seeing a man shooting and dressing a bighorn near the freeway. According to the Beaverton Valley Times, Troopers found 32-year-old Justin Samora and 28-year-old Cody Plagman at the scene.
“It’s an outrage that someone would poach a bighorn sheep, when hunters can wait their whole life and still never get the opportunity to hunt this iconic species,” said Jeremy Thompson, an Oregon Fish & Wildlife biologist, said in a press release. “This herd is also a popular viewing attraction for people driving along I-84 and has been there since 1993.”
State troopers first got the call early in the morning and arrived to find Samora sitting in his car. While troopers talked to Samora, motorists called in regarding another man nearby hiding in a bush. While searching for that man, Plagman, the officers discovered the bodies of two bighorns. Their heads were removed, and despite reports of the men dressing the animals, it appeared that the alleged poachers had made no effort to save the meat.
Fox 12 reports that Plagman was later charged with the taking and possession of a bighorn sheep, wasting a game animal, and hunting on enclosed land. Samora was charged with the aiding of a game violation.
For many hunters across the nation, the opportunity to take bighorn sheep is the hunt of a lifetime. It is not unknown for hunters to wait years, sometimes even decades, before they are allowed the chance to harvest this coveted animal. The same is true in Oregon, which last year only offered 96 tags for bighorn. Nearly 22,000 hunters signed up for the lottery. The state holds a population of about 5,000 bighorn sheep, most of which can trace their origins back to California.
Image courtesy Oregon State Police