Byron Delong, 24, of Pilgrim, Ky., pleaded guilty Monday in Martin District Court to guiding elk hunters without a commercial guide’s license, assisting an elk hunter to hunt over bait, and assisting an elk hunter with an At-Large Elk Permit to hunt in a Limited Entry Area.
The court ordered Delong to pay $5,000 in fines, $2,718.36 in restitution for the cow elk taken illegally and $163 in court costs. The court also stripped Delong of hunting privileges for three years and probated his 60-day jail sentence. The court judgment was Martin County’s largest ever handed down for illegal elk hunting and commercial guide services.
The prosecution resulted from a months-long investigation by members of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ Special Investigations Unit and conservation officers in the department’s Seventh District.
“Kentucky’s elk herd has grown into the nation’s largest east of the Rocky Mountains,” said Law Enforcement Division Director Col. Rodney Coffey. “We will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our restoration of free-ranging wild elk to east Kentucky this year. Our elk have become a year-round economic engine to our state, and we will continue our vigorous prosecution of those who illegally pursue this great resource.”