Drew Wahlin and his wife Cindy were taking his dog Cooper for a snowshoe outing Monday along the Ridenbaugh Canal just across Locust Grove from his house in Meridian’s Tuscany Lakes subdivision when they came upon 500 Canada geese in an unharvested wheat field in city limits.
As the couple was putting on snowshoes, a truck came down the snow-covered street and stopped next to the field.
“They were going to shoot the geese,” Wahlin said. “I just had that feeling after looking into the eyes of the driver.”
Two men jumped out of the truck “with guns blazing,” Wahlin said, killing some of the geese. The sound of 12-gauge semi-automatic shotguns rang out throughout the neighborhood and scared off the remaining birds.
Wahlin, his wife, some construction workers framing a new house and others watched the pair of poachers pick up geese as fast as they could. When they had eight, they hopped back in the truck and took off on Locust Grove.
Wahlin called 911 and asked Meridian Police to come collect evidence. They sent two patrol cars, Wahlin said, and took reports from him and other witnesses, including a picture one framer got of the truck and its license plate. He also called Idaho Department of Fish and Game conservation officer Bill London.
Wahlin said at least a dozen people from the subdivision watched the so-called hunters slaughter and waste magnificent wild birds.
“This is what gives sportsmen a bad name,” Wahlin said. “Needless to say, my wife wasn’t too impressed with witnessing the whole thing either.”
Wahlin was especially mad that the shooters were so blatant in their crime, because he’s the president of the Idaho Chukar Foundation, a sportsman’s conservation group.
“The affair even soured my love for the outdoors and hunting,” he said.
For London the real story isn’t the poachers.
“We had incredible witnesses,” he said. “They were quick, they were observant. They really helped us.”
Cooper, Wahlin’s gun dog, retrieved eight wounded geese so the birds could be put out of their misery.
Mark Edwards, 48, of Star, and Wayne Campbell, 57, of Kuna, were charged with shooting geese over the four-goose limit and for wasting the geese they left dead and dying. In the end, 16 geese were killed.
Meridian Police also cited the two men for shooting and hunting inside the city limits.
“This whole case was textbook how to work together,” London said.