Celebrity bowhunting couple sentenced in Nebraska wildlife case #Celebrity #bowhunting #couple #sentenced #Nebraska #wildlife #case

Celebrity bowhunting couple sentenced in Nebraska wildlife case

An Iowa couple who are social media personalities in the bowhunting, nutrition and fitness worlds have been fined and sentenced to probation for conspiracy to attempt to illegally obtain wildlife.

Josh Bowmar, 32, Sarah Bowmar, 33, and their business, Bowmar Bowhunting LLC, all of Ankeny, Iowa, were sentenced last week in federal court in Omaha.

The Bowmars pleaded guilty in October to conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, which prohibits the trafficking of wildlife, fish or indigenous plants that are considered “tainted” — taken in violation of a law or regulation. Each was sentenced to three years’ probation and 40 hours of community service.

In exchange for their pleas, four other more serious charges, mostly involving allegations of illegally baited hunting sites, were dropped.

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The Bowmars said in October that it made sense to enter the pleas.

“We agree 100% that we should have known better, and for the record, we take responsibility for that,” Josh Bowmar said then. “At the end of the day, we were fighting to make sure (that it is clear) that we never poached or baited deer illegally.”

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Nelson also ordered the Bowmars to pay a $75,000 fine, a $44,000 money judgment in lieu of forfeiting certain property and $13,000 restitution.

As part of the terms of their probation, the Bowmars were ordered not to hunt or engage in any activities associated with hunting in Nebraska during the probation period.

Investigators determined that beginning in September 2015 and continuing through November 2017, the Bowmars conducted about five hunts per year at Hidden Hills Outfitters, a commercial big-game guiding and outfitting business near Broken Bow. During that time, officials said, the Bowmars conspired to transport wildlife, or parts thereof, from Nebraska to Ohio, when the Bowmars should have known that taking and transporting the wildlife was contrary to Nebraska law.

The Bowmars, using various internet and social media platforms, including their Bowmar Bowhunting website, Instagram site, and YouTube channel, published and broadcast hunting activities that occurred at Hidden Hills Outfitters.

Officials said the sentencing hearing marked the completion of prosecutions related to violations committed by owners, guides and clients of Hidden Hills Outfitters. Violations associated with 52 people have been resolved through the investigation, officials said.

A total of 39 defendants have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced and ordered to pay a total of $759,732 in fines, restitution and forfeiture, serve 30 months of incarceration, 47 years of probation and 72 years of hunting and guiding restrictions.

An additional 13 people resolved their cases through administrative abandonment of various wildlife trophies originating from unlawful hunts at Hidden Hills Outfitters.

The Bowmars likely were Hidden Hills’ highest-profile clients. Sarah Bowmar’s Instagram account has more than 1.1 million followers and their company’s YouTube channel lists more than 300,000 subscribers.

Under the plea agreements, the federal government is returning to the Bowmars a mounted mule deer head, two sets of mule deer antlers and a bow. The government is keeping three sets of deer antlers.

Hidden Hills and some of its clients used such illegal tactics as setting bait, hunting at night with lights (which can immobilize animals) or from the road or out of season. Some put silencers on their rifles to keep other hunters from hearing the gunshots. Others fudged hunting permits.

Over the years that Hidden Hills was in operation, at least 97 game animals, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope and turkeys, were killed.

Hidden Hills Outfitters had access to 200,000 acres over eight Nebraska counties, according to court documents and one of the convicted participants.

Hidden Hills is not related to Hidden Valley Outfitters in nearby Arnold, Nebraska.

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