VERNAL — A Salt Lake man won't be going to jail, but he will pay a hefty penalty for illegally killing four bull elk in the Book Cliffs a little more than a year ago.
Jerold Cushing Kennicott, 38, was ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines and restitution and will lose his hunting privileges for up to 10 years for shooting four bull elk during the archery hunt in September 2004.
"He conceded to shooting four bull elk, but we were actually only able to confirm that two of those animals were dead," said state Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation Officer Tony Wood.
Among the four elk was a trophy animal that grossed 399 Boone and Crockett points (a hunting measurement of the size of an elk), reportedly the second-largest archery bull elk taken in Utah.
Authorities would not have investigated the illegal kills had Kennicott not turned himself in to authorities last April, admitting initially that he had shot just one elk that had gotten away. Further investigation found more animals were actually killed.
"I appreciate his willingness to come forward, but he never would have found himself in this situation if he had made the right decision up front and been truthful with us," Wood said.
According to Wood, Kennicott admitted to shooting the fourth elk even after realizing that he had killed at least one trophy bull elk.
"Basically, he didn't have the patience to do what he was supposed to," Wood said.
Kennicott pleaded guilty in July in 7th District Court in Grand County to three misdemeanor counts for attempted wanton destruction of protected wildlife, unlawful tagging of big game and unlawful taking of protected wildlife. His two-year jail term was stayed. At a restitution hearing late last month, Judge Lyle R. Anderson ordered Kennicott to pay $8,000 to the DWR's Help Stop Poaching Fund and fined him $2,110.
The fines and restitution were part of a plea agreement reached by Kennicott and prosecutors.
Kennicott salvaged all the meat and kept the antlers from the fourth animal, but they aren't his anymore.
"We have the antlers here. They will probably be displayed in our Help Stop Poaching campaign and then go to public auction later," said Wood. "We have had organizations call and ask to get a good look at it. This case is pretty well-known in sporting organizations in Vernal."