Sometimes criminals unintentionally turn themselves in. Remember the Florida guy who accidentally texted his confession to an officer? Recently, these three ‘idiot’ hunters left a trail of evidence on social media, enabling authorities to convict them.
Austin Peterson, 20, Trey Juhnke, 20, and Corbin Simmons, 19, illegally killed a mountain lion in Yellowstone National Park and were caught after sharing photos of their trophy on social media.
As reported by the Jackson Hole News and Guide, the trio hunters had not only shared the pictures of their kill on one single platform but multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.
According to investigation documents, other hunters alerted game wardens to photos of the three men posing with their illegal mountain lion kill.
In one of the pictures, two of the men are standing behind a horizontal tree branch that the dead animal is draped over.
While in another, one of the young men is holding up the lifeless, dead animal with a big smile on his face.
Yellowstone special agent Jake Olson said, according to the transcripts:
“You know, we ended up getting a lot of this information from a guy in Bozeman off of Facebook because you guys put a bunch of stuff on social media.”
According to court documents, the three admitted to shooting the lion before carrying the carcass back to their vehicle.
But when authorities interviewed them separately, they later changed their story.
Authorities learned that all three had fired at the male lion, which was shot eight times, and killed it after it crossed the border into Yellowstone.
The men’s actions were found to be in violation of the Lacey Act of 1894, per the National Park Service, which prohibits the taking, selling, or purchasing of wildlife from protected areas.
Hunting mountain lions is legal in the state of Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. However, the three hunters had deliberately crossed the park’s borders and killed the animal in the protected area.
The trio also tried to sneak the lion back to their car without informing authorities – meaning they could have potentially breached the “one mountain lion per year” rule that every hunter must follow in the park for conservation reasons.
According to documents, Peterson, Junke, and Simmons all pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay $1,666 each in restitution, along with three-year unsupervised probations, which include a worldwide hunting ban.
Yellowstone National Park Chief Ranger Pete Webster said:
“I would like to express a sincere thank you to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, law enforcement officers at Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch, and the US Attorney’s Office – District of Wyoming for being involved in this case.”
“Their thorough work spotlighted this egregious act and the consequences incurred for hunting illegally in Yellowstone National Park.”