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Man Charged with Stealing Sheep he Killed Illegally

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The head of an Alaskan Dall sheep that was being used by state wildlife officials as part of an anti-poaching campaign was stolen by the man who illegally killed the animal in the first place.

The mounted sheep's head was hanging in the Division of Wildlife Resources "Help Stop Poaching" display trailer. Mapleton resident Wade L. Hanks, who shot the sheep unlawfully a decade ago while hunting in Alaska, was working at a nearby exhibit.

Authorities said Hanks, and a friend, Tyrell C. Gray, stole the sheep's head while the employee in charge of the trailer was running an errand.

When the employee returned, he noticed the sheep's head was missing, said DWR Captain John Pratt. The theft was caught on video. After being contacted by authorities, the men acknowledged they took the sheep's head and revealed that it was being held in a storage facility in Utah county, where it was recovered.

This week, Hanks, 37, and Gray, 31, of Spanish Fork, were charged with one count each of burglary and theft, third-degree felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

Gray is scheduled to surrender for jail booking during an April 30 arraignment hearing in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court. No dates have been set for Hanks. Bail for both men is set at $5,000.

The head has an estimated mounted value of about $1,700, according to charging documents.

Dall sheep are found in Alaska, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and northwestern British Columbia.

Pratt called the stolen sheep's head a "trophy" because the horns have "a full curl, which is really desirable."

The head had been in the DWR's possession for about eight years, but Pratt was unable to say exactly when Hanks had killed the sheep.

Pratt said Utah authorities helped Alaska with their poaching case by seizing the sheep's head from Hanks. But he said the head probably remained in Utah because it was not worth shipping it back to Alaska.

It is a rare case where someone is prosecuted twice in connection with the same animal.

Pratt said convictions for poaching wildlife usually result in fines and restitution payments, rather than jail time.

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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