Man sentenced in poaching case

A moose is seen in the Saranac River outside Saranac Lake in July 2019. Aaron Cerbone/Adirondack Daily Enterprise

VERMONTVILLE — A Saranac man has been sentenced to 60 days in Franklin County Jail, fined $5,525 and had his hunting privileges revoked for five years following charges that he illegally poached a moose in the town of Franklin in October 2019.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Law Enforcement investigation into the moose poaching concluded on Sept. 3. Zachary Vaughan, 26, of Saranac was sentenced in the town of Franklin court in Vermontville.

In December, Vaughan was charged with taking of a moose, possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle, use of an artificial light in a vehicle while in possession of firearm, and hunting deer with the aid of an artificial light, all misdemeanors. He also was charged with three additional Environmental Conservation Law violations.

He faced a maximum penalty of $9,725 in fines and up to a year in prison.

The DEC investigation began on Oct. 31, 2019, after state Environmental Conservation Officer Nathan Favreau received a call from a camp member in the Chateaugay Highlands Easement reporting a dead cow moose on the property. The moose was transported to DEC’s Delmar Wildlife Resource Lab for a necropsy. The crime scene investigation continued with the aid of a DEC K-9 dog named Diesel. Following a series of anonymous calls and an anonymous tip reported to the DEC environmental crime tip line, Vaughan was identified as the shooter.

According to the DEC, Vaughan initially denied the claims, but ECOs obtained a supporting deposition. A search warrant was executed on Nov. 26, 2019, by DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement at the home of Vaughan and his parents, during which officers obtained a voluntary statement from Vaughan regarding the poaching incident.

The moose is a protected mammal in New York state. It is the largest member of the deer family and the largest land mammal in New York. Hunting moose in New York state is illegal.

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