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Poacher fights use of GPS by wardens

Published March 14, 2009 9:55 pm

Poaching » A device placed on the truck of a suspected bobcat poacher led game wardens to traps.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A trapper accused of illegally killing bobcats is challenging the use of a GPS device that was attached to his truck as he visited dozens of trap lines in northern Utah.

Lawyers for Jared Beal, 41, of North Ogden, say game wardens weren't justified in using the Global Positioning Device, which they surreptitiously attached to his truck at his home.

They want a state judge to throw out evidence that includes 31 pelts taken from his house.

Authorities say Beal was exceeding his bobcat quota in Utah and selling 60 or more pelts a year in Wyoming, which has fewer restrictions on the fur trade. A single luxurious pelt can go for more than $1,000.

The Utah game wardens got permission to use GPS tracking from a state judge, and then got another warrant based on information gleaned from Beal's movements to search his home.

Defense lawyers say both warrants should be thrown out as a violation of the trapper's Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

"It's Big Brotherish, and kind of scary," said Beal's lawyer, Kristopher Greenwood.

Beal was charged with 12 counts of wanton destruction of protected wildlife. His annual limit in Utah was six bobcats a year.

Wardens say they were tipped off to Beal's poaching when he registered 47 bobcat pelts in a single day in Wyoming, which is legal in that state, but, he could not specify where in Wyoming he had taken all of the animals.