Edwin Singler and son Ryan Singler were sentenced earlier this week for charges of unlawful killing of a big game animal that occurred in 2015.
Kelly Brown, the Singler’s legal counsel spoke on the behalf of the father and son. “First I’d like to address whether these cases should be addressed as felony’s or gross misdemeanors. All parties recommend that these should be gross misdemeanors,” Brown said.
The case dates back to 2015 when the Singlers, from Outagamie County in Wisconsin, came to Nevada to hunt. Edwin drew a bull elk tag, and they hired Timberline Outfitters to be a guide service for them during their hunt.
Tyler Brunson became their guide for this late rifle tag hunt for what was supposed to be Edwin’s tag. Ryan ended up shooting the Elk for his father in the Lake Valley Summit area just south of Majors Place outside of Ely. On May 3, 2017, Edwin and Ryan Singler were arrested in Outagamie County, Wisconsin on warrants from Nevada for felony poaching charges.
At that time, the Singlers were also under investigation in Wisconsin for illegally shooting a trophy whitetail buck out of season. The Wisconsin authorities contacted Nevada Department of Wildlife with information regarding a tip they had received about the Singlers hunt in Nevada. NDOW law officials were able to confirm the information with a field check, and interviews with several sources.
Brown stated his clients are hard working farmers, no prior history and not the normal people you would see in court. Brown said Ryan lost his job during the initial arrest because the story made the news in Wisconsin.
District Attorney Mike Wheable said, “There is no room for negotiation in a statue or Nevada law for a relationship with trading tags between individuals. What happens if an individual was able to go out and let another fill an individuals tag vicariously? You field a market and that absolutely cannot be tolerated in this state, otherwise the common people who cannot afford a elk tag would be marked out of existence.”
Wheable argued that tags cannot be sold or traded, both are illegal. “The value that people put on a 370-plus inch bull Elk ranges to hundreds to thousands of dollars to come in and fill one of these tags. So by putting in together with your family to increase your chances of drawing cannot be tolerated or accepted.”
There was a victim to this crime, not the Elk necessarily, but the people of Nevada, and the other individuals who come to this state to hunt this animal fairly with fair odds to draw a tag. Wheable read part of Edwin’s statement that said “one person’s word against you whether true or not can wreck your life.”
Ryan’s statement said a whole lot more. “I’m in this situation because of a lie, with seriousness of accusation and legality I plead no contest because there is no good option available in this situation. So no contest, I would change nothing other than ask for the real truth, the testimony of Tyler Brunson I do dispute 100 percent no contest.”
It came time for sentencing and Judge Steve Dobrescu spoke. Dobrescu noted he had gone through the files and read and reviewed all the police reports, mentioning that he found it very interesting, looking at both the files, clean records, no priors, productive citizens, hard working certainly factors were big with the state’s recommendation to go to a gross misdemeanor.
Dobrescu said, “Let’s face it guys that’s the big question here. Do you get a felony and never have a gun in your life? Never get to vote again? Or do you get a gross misdemeanor. Or do you go to prison today? And that’s the issue … No doubt evidence if believed, absolutely Ryan poached an elk in Nevada, and Ed, aiding and abetting to poaching of an Elk, felony charges, conspiracy as well, so your lawyer did a heck of a job for you guys, and this DA cut a lot of slack so don’t ever forget that.”
Judge Dobrescu went on to discuss the appropriate sentencing. “I”m gonna go with the recommendation on a gross misdemeanor, the slack continues to get cut here gentleman, so for both of you I impose a gross misdemeanor conviction of unlawful killing of a big game animal by virtue of your guilty pleas.”
Both were sentenced with administrative fees, 270 days at the White Pine County Jail but suspended that time with one year probation. Each one will have to pay a $6,000 civil penalty fine and both had their hunting and fishing licenses revoked for six years. Dobrescu also ordered the forfeiture of the head, cape, rifle, scope, mount and all parts of the meat. Both will have to serve 40 hours of community service at the Wisconsin department of fishing and wildlife department.
Both were remanded to 10 days in jail. The bailiff took them into custody immediately.
The hunting guide, Tyler Brunson, received a fine and has had his guiding, hunting and fishing privileges suspended for three years.
“Shooting a big game animal without a tag, regardless of the context, can never be tolerated by our community,” Wheable said. “Hunting is very important to our way of life in White Pine, and fair odds of drawing an opportunity to hunt these amazing animals needs to be zealously protected. Further, we expect our local guides to re-enforce these laws and ethics.”