Two Charged With Attempted Poaching, and Other Counts, In Grand Teton National Park

Drinking and driving is well-known to be an error in judgment, but when you combine that with trying to poach elk in a national park, well, not much good can come from your efforts. For two Wyoming brothers, those alleged infractions will lead them to federal court to face multiple charges.

According to Grand Teton National Park officials, rangers arrested one man and cited another on Thursday, September 10, during an investigation of an attempted poaching of a bull elk in the park. Ryan Palmer, 25, and his brother Tracy Palmer, 32, both of Rawlins, Wyoming, were cited for resource violations, drug violations, and weapons violations, park officials said.

According to park records, at roughly 2 a.m. Thursday, Ryan Palmer was driving his Chevy truck down Highway 26/89/191 near the Snake River Overlook when a Teton County deputy sheriff stopped him for swerving in the road. The deputy sheriff performed an investigation for alcohol-related violations and consequently cited Ryan Palmer for possession of an open container, the park said. During the investigation, the deputy sheriff also learned that Ryan’s brother, Tracy, had been let off near the Triangle X Ranch in pursuit of a bull elk with a bow and arrow.

Now, mind you, this is 2 a.m. in the morning. Who hunts at 2 a.m.?

The deputy sheriff notified the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center, and park rangers responded to both locate Tracy Palmer and conduct an interview of Ryan Palmer in the investigation of possible wildlife poaching. During the roadside interview with Ryan Palmer, other violations were discovered, according to park officials. As a result of the evidence, rangers arrested Ryan Palmer and took him into custody.

Rangers discovered that the Palmer brothers had driven to Jackson Hole to hunt elk on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. In the early hours of Thursday morning, the brothers decided to spotlight wildlife—an illegal activity in Grand Teton National Park. They spotted a bull elk with its harem of cows in the park about one mile south of Triangle X Ranch, and armed with a bow and quiver of arrows, Tracy Palmer got out of the vehicle to shoot the animal, according to the park's investigation. Ryan Palmer apparently drove on down the highway after seeing the deputy sheriff’s patrol car, leaving his brother behind in the brush.

After a systematic search, park rangers eventually located Tracy Palmer about 9:30 a.m. Thursday as he emerged from the underbrush and approached the road in an effort to hitch a ride. Tracy Palmer was subsequently charged with illegally spotlighting, discharging of a weapon in a national park, and attempting the illegal take of wildlife; he was cited and released, the park reported.

Here's the rest of the park's report:

During the interview of Ryan, evidence of other illegal activity was discovered; rangers found illegal drugs (methamphetamine) and paraphernalia, as well as several loaded firearms in his vehicle. Ryan Palmer was charged with illegally spotlighting, possession of drugs, and illegal possession of loaded firearms, in addition to the citation he received from the deputy sheriff for possession of an open container. Ryan is being held in the Teton County jail pending a more serious charge for felony possession of firearms.

Rangers later returned to the area of the possible poaching and searched for evidence of blood or an animal carcass, but none was found. At this time, it appears that Tracy missed his intended target; however, the investigation is ongoing.

Law enforcement officers from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office and the Jackson Hole Police Department were instrumental in the apprehension of these two brothers. Their assistance to park rangers serves as another great example of the cooperative support that local law enforcement agencies provide to one another throughout the greater Jackson Hole area.