May 28, 2015

Sharing this YouTube video cost a Casper man $1,500 and some hunting privileges

Flying just above a herd of elk with an ultralight aircraft and a video camera drew a Casper man tens of thousands of views on YouTube — and now a more than thousand dollar fine for harassing wildlife.

Last September, Kevin Christopherson, 53, shared footage of himself flying low over a large herd of elk as the animals ran away.

A screenshot of the video.
The roughly four-minute video has been watched more than 51,000 times on YouTube, but not everyone "liked" the clip: more than 30 people brought it to the attention of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, feeling he'd harassed the elk. The department learned the footage had been shot in Deer Creek Park in the Laramie Range southeast of Casper.

Christopherson was convicted of harassment of big game last week on May 20 in Natrona County Circuit Court. He must pay $1,500 to the court, lost his hunting privileges for a year and must serve a year of unsupervised probation (with a year of jail time hanging in suspension).

“While amazing to see wildlife up close, the amount of stress the elk endured was uncalled for,” said Glenrock Game Warden Gary Boyd said in a Thursday news release from the Game and Fish Department.  “People didn’t see the parts of the video where the elk were pushed through a barbed wire fence. That is why it is illegal to pursue or harass wildlife with any kind of motor vehicle.”

Harassment of big game is punishable by an up to $10,000 fine, a year in jail and six years of lost hunting privileges.

Warden Boyd said the department appreciates people coming forward with concerns.

“It is good to know how much people care about their wildlife,” the warden said.

Christopherson's still-active YouTube video has been monetized with advertisements and he's made it available for commercial licensing through Jukin Media, which licenses and distributes viral video clips.

The Game and Fish Department asks anyone with information on any wildlife crime to call the Stop Poaching hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP, fill out this online form or send a text message to 847411 with WGFD as the first word of the message. Rewards are possible and informants can remain anonymous.


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