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Celebrity bowhunting couple sentenced for conspiring to illegally obtain wildlife

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Sarah and Josh Bowmar said they "take responsibility" for some of their hunting actions in Nebraska and are relieved that prosecutors have agreed to drop the most serious charges against them.

A celebrity bowhunting couple have been sentenced in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trafficking of wildlife.

The case against Josh Bowmar, 32, Sarah Bowmar, 33, and Bowmar Bowhunting LLC of Ankeny, Iowa, was related to the largest known case of poaching in Nebraska.

The Bowmars pleaded guilty last year in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska to a misdemeanor conspiracy charge. In exchange, four other more serious charges, mostly involving allegations of illegally baited hunting sites, were dropped.

On Thursday, United States Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson sentenced them each to three years of probation and 40 hours of community service.

Nelson also ordered the Bowmars to pay a $75,000 fine ($25,000 each for each of the Bowmars and the business), a $44,000 money judgment in lieu of forfeiting certain property, and $13,000 restitution.

As part of probation, the Bowmars are banned from hunting or engaging in any activities associated with hunting within Nebraska during the period of probation.

In a press release, United States Attorney Steven Russell said beginning in September 2015 and continuing through November 2017, the Bowmars conducted about five hunts per year at Hidden Hills Outfitters, a commercial big game guiding and outfitting business near Broken Bow.

During commercially guided hunting activity, the Bowmars conspired to transport wildlife, or parts of it, from Nebraska to Ohio, when they should have known it was against state law, Russell said.

The Bowmars, using the internet and social media platforms including their Bowmar Bowhunting website, Instagram page and YouTube channel, broadcasted hunting activities that occurred at Hidden Hills.

"This sentencing hearing marks the completion of all foreseen prosecutions of numerous defendants related to violations committed by owners, guides, and clients of Hidden Hills Outfitters," Russell said in a press release.

In all, 39 people were convicted and more than $750,000 in fines, restitution and forfeitures have been collected in the yearslong case involving Hidden Hills Outfitters.

An additional 13 individuals resolved their cases through administrative abandonment of various wildlife trophies originating from unlawful hunts at Hidden Hills Outfitters.

The underlying violations related to at least 97 unlawfully-taken big game animals or wild turkey, including deer taken within baited areas; deer, pronghorn, and wild turkeys taken with weapons or firearms prohibited during their respective hunting seasons; deer taken during closed season hours from the road, or without a valid permit; and mule deer taken within the Mule Deer Conservation Area.

The operation was a joint investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Law Enforcement Division of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Saker falcons are rare and often targeted by poachers. Buzz60’s Tony Spitz has the details.

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