A Culver man who bragged about poaching bobcats, raccoons and a skunk on his social media accounts was recently arrested in connection with multiple hunting and trapping violations.
Thomas Ray Campbell, 27, faces 11 charges of unlawful taking of wildlife. The charges allege Campbell illegally hunted and trapped the animals on various occasions in Jefferson County between December 2017 and May.
The Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division began investigating Campbell in July 2017, after troopers received a complaint that Campbell was allegedly fishing illegally on the lower Metolius River and poaching bull trout, a federally protected species.
While investigating the fishing allegations, state wildlife trooper Charles Lindberg discovered Campbell had made numerous social media posts in which he gloated about other poaching activities, the trooper wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
In late December 2017, Campbell uploaded a picture of himself holding a dead bobcat to his Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Campbell then posted another picture to Instagram Jan. 1 of a stealth wildlife camera and commented, “New toy today. Only need 19 more of them though. Here kitty kitty.” His comment included hashtags that read, #gamecamera, #trapping, #coyote, #bobcats, #cougar.
The hashtags led Lindberg to believe Campbell was using a wildlife camera to attempt to trap bobcats, coyotes and cougars, according to the affidavit. Trapping cougars is illegal and Campbell did not have a fur taking license or a bobcat record card, which are required to set traps and snares for bobcats and coyotes.
Lindberg kept finding incriminating social media posts from Campbell, the trooper wrote in the affidavit.
On Jan. 5, Campbell posted on Instagram a picture of a raccoon with the comment, “Ima gonna get them all.”
On Jan. 21, Campbell uploaded a picture to Instagram of a dead bobcat laid out on a wooden deck. He commented, “Cats on cats on cats on cats,” further convincing investigators that he was trapping without a license.
Lindberg then discovered a message Campbell wrote on Instagram Jan. 22 about how he had to shoot a skunk that was caught in his trap. The message suggested Campbell was shooting animals he found alive in his traps, Lindberg wrote.
Other damning videos, photos and messages from Campbell were posted to Instagram between January and April, according to the trooper’s affidavit. The posts showed traps set for raccoons, dead raccoons and bobcats walking by traps and stuck in traps, according to Lindberg.
On May 8, Lindberg used a warrant to search Campbell’s home in Culver. He found 24 pieces of evidence, including raccoon traps, trapping bait and lures and stealth wildlife cameras.
Campbell was arraigned in Jefferson County Circuit Court in July. He is due back in court later this month for an early resolution conference.
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, firstname.lastname@example.org