Illegal hunting guides forfeit mules after multi-state investigation






Hunting camp for poachers
Hunting camp set up by illegal guides.

September 19, 2022

COMPANY, Ore.—Two Oregon men found guilty of illegally guiding hunters in Wallowa County forfeited mules and equipment, among other penalties, after a multi-state investigation. The case activated a new Turn In Poachers (TIP) rewards program led by the Oregon Outfitter Guide Association (OOGA), according to law enforcement officials.

David H. Ravia, 69, of Dayton, and Caleb L. Richmond, 48, of McMinnville, have guided out-of-state hunters in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area for at least the past decade, according to OSP Fish and Wildlife Lieutenant Ryan Howell. A complaint led to an investigation and subsequent indictments in a case that spanned two years and stretched from Oregon to Ohio and Michigan.

Police officers served an arrest warrant at Ravia’s Dayton home and questioned residents in Ohio and Michigan during the highly coordinated stabbing on August 27, 2019. Simultaneously, OSP F&W Troopers at a vantage point seized and served search warrants on Ravia and Richmond when, according to Lt. Howell led a line of six mules with huntsmen and equipment to their isolated camp.

Illegal hunting guide activity included several cases of hunting guides without a license. Their clients were often from out of state, bringing the case to the federal level and involving US Fish and Wildlife Services along with OSP F&W Troopers and the Michigan and Ohio Departments of Natural Resources. Across multiple jurisdictions, the case involved a variety of investigative tactics, including on-site surveillance to determine methods and equipment involved in the crimes.

One of the couple’s tactics was to instruct clients to say they were just friends, not guides, if anyone asked about it. Her clients’ complacency in following this directive led to interviews with previous clients in Michigan and Ohio, according to investigators working the case.

Licenses for guides serve multiple purposes, according to Cyndi Bolduc, program coordinator for outfitter guides at the Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB), which oversees the activities of guides and outfitters. Guides must demonstrate that they are adequately insured and committed, have basic first aid and CPR knowledge, wear required safety equipment, and commit to conducting themselves according to ethical and professional standards.

In July of this year, the OSMB launched a new reward program for the Turn In Poachers (TIP) lineage, modeled after the current programs administered by the Oregon Hunters Association and the Oregon Wildlife Coalition. Tipsters who call illegal tour guide activity can earn $200 if their tip results in an arrest or subpoena. In 2021, OHA awarded nearly $11,000 in awards, and ODFW awarded 178 hunter preference points to callers whose tips resulted in an arrest or subpoena.

An annual Oregon guide and outfitter license costs $150 for residents. Outfitters are required to post a $5,000 security deposit when accepting prepayments from customers. Those who circumvent the rules forego paying royalties and can reap other rewards, according to Bolduc. For example, illegal taking of animals can deter legitimate guides and outfitters from hunting in the same area. But remote warehouses and out-of-state customers can prolong investigations.

“Some of these cases are resolved quickly,” Bolduc said, “others require the commitment and time of officers to handle the case, but it is of great value to us.”

OSP F&W Troopers close cases over a spectrum of timeframes, but they stick around hoping for results like this one.

“Sometimes these cases last for years due to the seasonal nature of leadership for big game hunts,” said Lt. Howell, “What matters is that it was closed and that gives legal leaders a level playing field.”

On June 16, 2021, Caleb Richmond pleaded guilty to five counts of failing to register as an outfitter/guide. He faces fines and a 24-month suspended sentence that includes a ban on hunting, carrying and possessing firearms while camping; perform 80 hours of community service and issue a letter of apology to all hunters and guides.

On April 6, 2022, David Ravia pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to register as an outfitter/guide. He faces fines and a 24-month suspended sentence that includes a ban on hunting, carrying and possessing firearms while camping; 80 hours of community service; issue a letter of apology to all hunters and guides. Ravia also forfeited the evidence seized in the case, which included panniers, a chainsaw and saddles. Eventually, two out of six mules were definitively linked to the crime and confiscated. According to ODFW wildlife biologist Phillip Perrine, they are now the property of ODFW where they may be used in the offshore fish stocking program.

According to police officials, the tipsters who reported the OSP F&W Division guides’ illegal activities each received a $200 reward after the two men were charged and convicted.

The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to identify and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration between state agencies, athletes and other conservationists, landowners and recreation seekers to engage the public in tackling Oregon’s poaching problem. Our goal is to: Incentivize reporting of wildlife crimes via the TIP Line; strengthening enforcement by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers; and help law enforcement become an effective deterrent. The campaign helps protect and enhance Oregon’s fish, wildlife and habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. For more informations: https://dfw.state.or.us/stop-poaching/

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