United States Attorney Steven Russell announced that Josh T. Bowmar, 32, Sarah E. Bowmar, 33, and Bowmar Bowhunting LLC, all of Ankeny, Iowa, were sentenced on January 12, 2023 in federal court in Omaha, Nebraska, by United States Magistrate Judge Michael D. Nelson for Conspiracy to Violate the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits the trafficking in interstate commerce “tainted” (i.e., taken in violation of a law or regulation) wildlife, fish, or indigenous plants. Josh and Sarah Bowmar, and their corporate entity, Bowmar Bowhunting LLC, (collectively referred to as the Bowmars) were convicted after previously pleading guilty to Conspiring to Violate the Lacey Act and sentenced each to three years’ probation and 40 hours of community service each. Magistrate Judge Nelson ordered the Bowmars to pay a $75,000 fine ($25,000 each), a $44,000 money judgment in lieu of forfeiting certain property, and $13,000 restitution. As part of the probation terms, the Bowmars shall not hunt or engage in any activities associated with hunting within the District of Nebraska during the period of probation.
The investigation determined that beginning in September 2015, and continuing through November 2017, the Bowmars conducted approximately five hunts per year at Hidden Hills Outfitters (HHO), a commercial big game guiding and outfitting business, near Broken Bow, Nebraska. During the course of commercially guided hunting activity, the Bowmars conspired to transport wildlife, or parts thereof, from Nebraska to Ohio, when the Bowmars should have known that the wildlife was attempted to be taken, possessed, and transported contrary to Nebraska state law. The Bowmars, utilizing various internet and social media platforms including their Bowmar Bowhunting website, Instagram site, and YouTube channel, published and broadcasted hunting activities that occurred at HHO.
This sentencing hearing marks the completion of all foreseen prosecutions of numerous defendants related to violations committed by owners, guides, and clients of Hidden Hills Outfitters. Violations associated with 52 individuals have been resolved throughout this investigation. 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 for underlying violations related to at least 97 unlawfully-taken big game animals or wild turkey including deer taken within baited areas; deer, pronghorn, and wild turkeys taken with weapons or firearms prohibited during their respective hunting seasons; deer taken during closed season hours, from the road, or without a valid permit; and mule deer taken within the Mule Deer Conservation Area. An additional 13 individuals resolved their cases through administrative abandonment of various wildlife trophies originating from unlawful hunts at Hidden Hills Outfitters.
The operation was a joint investigation conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Law Enforcement Division.