By Stacey Leasca
May 10, 2019
John Morrison/Getty Images

Three men have been sentenced in federal court for allegedly hunting mountain lions in Yellowstone National Park.

According to People, Austin Peterson, Trey Juhnke, and Corbin Simmons, all from Livingston, Montana, committed the crime on Dec. 12 when they shot and killed a male mountain lion in the northern section of the park.

According to a statement from the park, the three men violated The Lacey Act, which prohibits hunting in the park.

The three men admitted to shooting the lion and transporting the carcass back to their vehicle, the statement said. Simmons initially attempted to claim to have harvested the animal north of the park boundary in Montana.

At the sentencing, Peterson was ordered to pay approximately $1,700 in restitution and fees and must serve three years of unsupervised probation. During his probation, he is banned from hunting, fishing, or trapping worldwide. Juhnke and Simmons received similar sentences. All three pleaded guilty to the charges at prior court hearings.

“I would like to express a sincere thank you to Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, law enforcement officers at Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch, and the US Attorney's Office - District of Wyoming for being involved in this case,” Yellowstone National Park Chief Ranger Pete Webster said in a statement. “Their thorough work spotlighted this egregious act and the consequences incurred for hunting illegally in Yellowstone National Park.”

As the National Parks Service explained, "Though seldom seen by the public, biologists estimate that 20-31 adult cougars reside year-round in the northern range.” These estimates are based on field surveys and statistical analyses. The numbers, the service added, do not include kitten and sub-adult cougars which accompany a portion of the adult females each year. Mountain lions are currently listed as “threatened” by the National Wildlife Foundation.  

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