Hunting Guide Illegally Kills Desert Bighorn Sheep in Utah

Jan 24, 2018

Larry Altimus poses with the desert bighorn ram he killed illegally in southwestern Utah.
Credit wildlife.utah.gov

A well-known hunting guide won’t be hunting in Utah or 46 other states anytime soon. The Arizona man illegally harvested a desert bighorn sheep in southern Utah.

In July 2017, Larry Altimus of Pearce, Arizona was found guilty of wanton destruction of protected wildlife – trophy desert bighorn sheep, which is a third degree felony in Utah. As a result, he has lost hunting privileges until 2028.

“Utah is one of the relatively few states that offer permits for these sheep and they’re difficult to come up with,” said Douglas Messerly, the captain of investigations with the Utah Division of Wildlife. “One of those species is the desert bighorn sheep, which is found in Utah.”

Every time a hunter applies for a Utah big game hunting permit, but doesn’t draw one, he or she receives a bonus point. Every point a hunter obtains increases the odds the hunter will draw a permit in the future. Only 11 of desert bighorn sheep permits are given out every year, and only one was given to someone out-of-state in 2014. So that’s when Altimus got creative.

“Mr. Altimus had 21 points, as a non-resident that wouldn’t do him any good in the drawing, he would be in the same bucket as everyone else, the other non-resident applicants,” Messerly said. “As a resident, it assured him a permit.”

Altimus rented a house in Kanab, Utah and used the address to apply for one of 10 desert bighorn sheep permits available to Utah residents that year. After drawing the permit, he moved back to Arizona. Later that year, Altimus came back to Utah where he killed a trophy desert bighorn ram using his fraudulently obtained permit.

“Say your parents lived in Wyoming or whatever and you continue to get hunting licenses using their address, that’s quite common,” Messerly said.

But it is still against the law.

Messerly added that some out-of-state hunters purchase summer homes in Utah and obtain resident hunting licenses. The law requires you to permanently leave your out-of-state residence to legally purchase a Utah resident hunting license.

In the case of Altimus, he not only lost his hunting privilege but he is paying $30,000 in fines and restitution.