3 arrested in suspected Northern California poaching ring

SACRAMENTO — State game wardens on Saturday arrested three men in connection with a poaching ring that killed deer, elk and wild boar and then sold the meat to private buyers in Northern California.

The arrests culminated a two monthlong investigation, dubbed "Operation High Hog," by the California Department of Fish and Game, said department Lt. Patrick Foy.

The investigation was sparked by ranch owners in Colusa, Butte and Glenn counties who had complained of repeated poaching on their properties since mid-summer. Game wardens were never able to get to the outlying ranches in time to catch the poachers, but property owners were able to supply license plate numbers of the suspects' vehicles, Foy said.

Wardens put the suspects under surveillance that included use of airplanes to track their movements, Foy said.

The suspects were seen hunting at night using "spotlighting," or shining bright lights into the animals' eyes, effectively causing them to freeze so they could easily shoot them. They also used illegal snares, Foy said.

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