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Yurok Tribe, California

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Yurok Desmond Keith Oliver of Requa, convicted of poaching two 600-pound elk, was tied to his crime by DNA strands taken from the animals, a technique investigators increasingly are using to catch poachers. He was convicted of two counts of violating federal law for transporting the Roosevelt elk killed in January 1999. Oliver, 71, who also pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a gun, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Transporting the elk violates the federal Lacey Act, which carries a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The gun possession charge could lead to as many as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Authorities found two elk heads in Redwood National Park and two gutted cow elk hanging from a shed at Oliver's residence. He claimed they were shot on the reservation where tribal members can kill game all year. But state Department of Fish and Game investigators linked the elk heads to the carcasses through DNA. Because poachers usually take part of the evidence - the meat, and perhaps the head - and leave behind the animal's guts, investigators can tie the two parts of the evidence together.

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