bighorn sheep stockimage

Bighorn sheep

Montana Standard

POLSON – A Dayton resident has been banned from Wild Horse Island, and lost his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for three years, for multiple violations of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regulations.

Michael Filipek accepted a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to unlawfully possessing bighorn sheep horns that came from Wild Horse, and to illegally killing a bobcat and mountain lion.

The killings did not take place on the 2,164-acre Flathead Lake island, most of which is a primitive state park.

FWP said Warden Sgt. Nathan Reiner and Polson Game Warden Ron Howell were on Wild Horse to investigate the reported killing of a large bighorn ram when they encountered Filipek on March 13, 2015.

“The wardens interviewed Filipek on the island and were able to determine that Filipek had picked up two bighorn ram heads and moved them out of plain view,” according to FWP Region 1 spokesman John Fraley.

It is illegal to pick up bighorn sheep horns anyplace in Montana, FWP Warden Capt. Lee Anderson said.

Filipek was not cited at the time. But later, Reiner, Howell and FWP criminal investigator Brian Sommers obtained a search warrant for Filipek’s home.

“A set of bighorn sheep horns that Filipek had previously taken from Wild Horse Island were seized,” Fraley said. “The investigation also showed that Filipek had illegally shot a bobcat in 2013 and illegally shot a mountain lion in 2013.”

“This is a very important case for the state parks division,” regional park manager Dave Landstrom said. “It is illegal to remove natural or cultural artifacts from any of Montana’s state parks. The intent of this law is that anyone who visits a state park should have an opportunity to enjoy these artifacts and then leave them where they lay so that then next visitor can do the same.”

Fraley said there is a “huge commercial value” in bighorn sheep horns, “especially ones of world class-caliber like the Wild Horse Island sheep.”

Anderson said the sheep were not shot and were likely killed by a mountain lion.

Filipek pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of bighorn sheep horns, unlawful possession of a mountain lion, unlawful possession of a bobcat and hunting without a license.

In addition to being banned from Wild Horse and losing his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for three years, he was ordered to pay $1,200 in fines and restitution.

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