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Poaching Boast Lands Oregon Prison Guard in Hot Water; Pulls State Trooper Father Down with Him

Pendleton, Oregon boys pride themselves on their hunting abilities. Deep in the heart of Oregon’s high desert, hunting is an age-old rite of passage and a way of life. Guards at Pendleton’s Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) brag constantly about their hunting prowess, though they’re probably doing so much more quietly these days.

Over the course of four conversations in September 2008, 22-year-old EOCI prison guard Timothy Charles Gallaher boasted to fellow guard Josh Mitchell about illegally poaching a branch-antlered 6-by-7 point bull elk on September 21, 2008 near his family’s cabin. He stated that his father, Timothy Ernie Gallaher, a 28-year veteran with the Fish and Wildlife Division of the Oregon State Police (OSP), approved of the poach and offered to help retrieve and remove the downed elk.

Mitchell reported the conversations to his supervisor because he thought poaching was morally wrong and feared he could be fired for not reporting it. The supervisor notified OSP, which initiated an investigation.

OSP officials kept the Gallahers under surveillance and watched them meet at the family cabin. Afterward, Timothy altered his original story, telling Mitchell that he and his father had found the dead elk, without its antlers, on private property. He also said they found two dead elk calves with missing backstraps nearby. He claimed that his father believed a local poacher was involved.

In a search warrant signed two days later, investigators wrote that “[Gallaher] Junior told Mitchell that [Gallaher] Senior was going to make a case against (the local poacher) regarding the calf and that Senior would retrieve the 6 x 7 bull elk antlers in order to give them to Junior.”

On October 1, 2008, teams of Fish and Wildlife investigators descended upon two Gallaher residences and seized GPS units, arrows, a camera and other items they hoped would tie them to the poaching. Police suspect that both Gallahers trespassed on private property when they killed the elk, severed its head for the antlers, and left the body to rot in the Umatilla National Forest.

Two months later, the senior Gallaher retired. OSP Captain Walt Markee stated Gallaher was not getting a heavier hand because he was a trooper, and wasn’t receiving special treatment. Umatilla County District Attorney Tim Thompson said he discussed the case with senior Gallaher’s attorney (and brother) Dave Gallaher, who happens to be a former Umatilla County district attorney. At worst, the senior Gallaher faces two misdemeanor charges, according to Thompson.

The junior Gallaher eventually admitted to killing the bull elk, and his father acknowledged that he concealed the incident from his OSP colleagues when he “was caught between his duty as an officer of the law and his paternal instincts.”

Sources: The Oregonian, Mail Tribune

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