Idaho director of Yellowstone conservation group pleads guilty to elk poaching

Jeff Hoyt of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition appears in a June 2012 segment of The Daily Show.

Marv Hoyt of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition appears in a June 2012 segment of The Daily Show.

The Idaho director of a nonprofit group working to protect habitat and wildlife around Yellowstone National Park has pleaded guilty to elk poaching, and is leaving the organization.

Marv Hoyt, who was an outspoken advocate for wildlife in the greater Yellowstone area, admitted last month in Idaho’s Sixth District Court that he illegally killed two cow elk in Caribou County, according to a report in the Idaho State Journal.

Hoyt, who headed the Idaho office of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, was featured prominently in a June 2012 segment of The Daily Show in which he criticized phosphate mining in Idaho as a source of significant river contamination. The GYC promoted the comedy news segment at the time, and still features prominent links to the video from its website.

GYC spokesman Jeff Welsch said in an email Thursday that Hoyt “has retired.” Earlier press accounts quote Welsch as saying that Hoyt was on vacation and would retire at the end of the month. Hoyt did not immediately respond to a message left seeking comment.

“GYC deeply regrets this incident and in no way either condones or excuses Marv Hoyt’s judgment,” executive director Caroline Byrd said in a written statement provided to news outlets. “As advocates for all lands, waters and wildlife in greater Yellowstone, our credibility depends upon consistently holding ourselves to the highest legal and ethical standards. This incident does not in any way reflect our values.”

The exact circumstances surrounding Hoyt’s departure from the GYC were not immediately clear, including the timing of his apparent vacation and retirement more than a month after pleading guilty to poaching. Welsch said the three-sentence statement by Byrd “stands for our public comment for all media.”

Hoyt had a permit to kill one elk on a Nov. 2 hunt in the Nate Canyon area, but killed three cow elk. He pleaded guilty Nov. 19 to misdemeanor charges of unlawful taking of game and wasteful destruction of wildlife.

He was fined more than $2,100 and ordered to pay $2,750 in restitution, along with a 30-day suspended jail sentence.

Investigators in the case reported that Hoyt did not harvest meat from the two illegally killed elk.

The GYC has long advocated for elk around the greater Yellowstone area, including litigation aimed at phasing out the artificial feeding of elk.

According to federal tax filings, the group took in $2.9 million in revenue in 2012, and a total of $12.7 million from 2007-2011.

Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].

Marv Hoyt appears in a June 2012 segment on The Daily Show:

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