By DAVE GRAM | Associated Press
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The wife of a decorated Vermont game warden will not be charged with a crime for allegedly shooting a moose illegally, a prosecutor said Monday.
Kim Eckhardt, of Landgrove, who is the wife of Fish and Wildlife Warden Greg Eckhardt, was hunting with her husband and a guide Oct. 21 when she fatally shot a second moose on a hunting permit that allowed only one, said Louis Porter, the commissioner of the wildlife department.
Porter said Kim Eckhardt apparently thought she was firing at the same moose her husband had shot less than a minute earlier, in hopes of keeping the animal from running off wounded. Her target turned out to be a second moose.
“My belief is that she thought she was shooting at the same moose,” the commissioner said.
Bennington County State's Attorney Erica Marthage said in an email that “case reviews are not public. All I can say is that I have reviewed the case and there are no criminal charges forthcoming.”
Porter said the Eckhardts immediately reported the incident, which occurred in the northern Bennington County town of Peru, to his department's law enforcement division.
“The typical result of this kind of a moose double-shoot case, in which the parties came forward and were honest and clear in their statements, would be a warning,” Porter said. “And you lose the moose.”
The meat is often given to a nonprofit group's game supper or to a food shelf, he said.
Porter said he decided this case called for outside review and referred it to Marthage.
“Given that there was a warden in the hunting party, it seemed to make sense to have that secondary, independent review,” he said.
Porter said he had not expected the case would result in charges. In a typical criminal case involving wildlife violations, “there's intent. There's a pattern,” he said. “Somebody's doing something much, much more significant than this.”
Porter said Eckhardt is one of two finalists for director of law enforcement in the Fish and Wildlife Department. He was named state Game Warden of the Year in 2004 and 2009.
The incident was first reported Friday by The Burlington Free Press. An email to Greg Eckhardt and a phone message left at his home Monday were not immediately returned.