NewsCrime and Courts


Belgrade man convicted of bighorn sheep poaching

Sentence includes fines, restitution and 10-year hunting privilege suspension
Posted at 10:55 AM, Nov 06, 2020

A Belgrade man has been sentenced after pleading guilty to killing a bighorn sheep illegally this year.

Matthew DeWit, 27, pleaded guilty to hunting during a closed season and unlawful possession, shipping, or transportation of a game animal, and he was later sentenced in Blaine County Justice Court on Oct. 20. His sentence includes $4,000 in fines and restitution and a 10-year suspension of hunting, fishing and trapping privileges in 49 states.

In May, DeWit shot the ram in the Missouri River Breaks during a closed season. He took the head to the Bozeman office of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to get the mandatory plug for bighorn sheep, claiming he’d found the animal dead. The ram was estimated to be about 8½ years old.

FWP game wardens in southwest and northeast Montana collaborated on the investigation, with help from administrative and wildlife staff and the Blaine County Attorney’s Office.

“Poaching is stealing from the public wildlife resources treasured by the people of Montana,” said FWP Game Warden Haden Hussey. “We’re pleased to see a successful conviction in this case.”

FWP relies on tips from the public while investigating wildlife crimes. Informants can remain anonymous and may be eligible for monetary rewards. To report a wildlife crime, please call Montana’s 24-hour poaching hotline: 1-800-TIP-MONT (847-6668).