Hunting privileges may be suspended after felony conviction

A Moab man who recently pleaded guilty in Seventh District Court to wanton destruction of protected wildlife, a third-degree felony, may soon lose his hunting privileges in Utah and 46 other states for up to seven years.

​ Mark Albert Thayn, 57, the former owner of La Sal Mountain Outfitters, pleaded guilty Feb. 20 for his role in the poaching of a cow elk.

​ According to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Officer Adam Wallerstein, during the fall of 2016, officers in the La Sal Mountains contacted two elk hunters from California as they headed out for a hunt.

​ “One of the men had killed his elk several days before and was now helping his friend as they attempted to harvest their next elk,” Wallerstein said. “When contacted, the hunter was unable to recall the address printed on his elk license.”

​ Investigators discovered Thayn had sold the cow elk hunts to the men from California earlier that summer, with each man paying nearly $2,000 for a partially guided elk hunt on private property.

​ “When the men arrived in Moab, Thayn fraudulently charged the two men an additional $400 each for the licenses,” Wallerstein said. “Thayn gave the two men elk permits he had acquired from unsuccessful hunters several weeks prior.”

​ Thayn’s outfitting business was a legitimate licensing agent for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. An inquiry by The Times-Independent discovered that while Thayn has operated a number of businesses in Moab, no license was ever issued by Grand County for the outfitter’s business — and a license issued by the City of Moab Treasurer’s Office would not have been valid for use at Thayn’s former location in unincorporated Grand County.

​ According to Wallerstein, Thayn will also pay restitution to the California residents defrauded during the hunt.

​ “The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will pursue the suspension of Thayn’s hunting privileges in Utah, which will be honored by all member states of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact,” Wallerstein said.

​ The compact establishes a process where wildlife law violations by a non-resident are handled as if the person were a resident. Each member state honors wildlife violations and suspensions from other member states. Only Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey are non-member states in the compact.

​ According to investigators with DWR, no firm date has been set for an administrative hearing to suspend Thayn’s privileges, though Wallerstein added it could come as soon as July or August.

​ “This should all be wrapped up some time this summer,” Wallerstein said.

​ Court documents show Thayn’s conviction could be reduced to a Class A misdemeanor after the payment of fines and completing three years of probation.

ByBy Greg Knight

The Times-Independent