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Man pleads guilty to placing a trap on Bitterroot National Forest trail

Bitterroot Forest Trap
Posted at 1:33 PM, Dec 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 09:49:45-05

HELENA — Richard Joseph Stratton pleaded guilty last week to one count of placing a hazardous and injurious device on federal land.

Stratton faces a possible penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

According to court documents, a Special Agent with the U.S. Forest Service began investigating reports of a trap placed on federal land in November of 2019.

Reports say a person was carrying two children on Bitterroot National Forest land about six miles south of Hamilton when they stepped on a board with nails driven through it. They were not injured by the device.

Investigators say the board was covered with vegetation and not immediately visible.

Bitterroot Forest Trap

Through interviews, the agent was able to identify Stratton as a suspect. One witness told authorities he allowed Stratton to access National Forest land through his property and said Stratton had shown him a device similar to the one found on the trail.

Stratton reportedly told the witness he planned to place the spiked board on the trail to keep people out of the area.

Special Agent Morgan Dale says in documents that during an interview Stratton admitted to placing the device on the trail because he was upset with bicyclists riding in the area.

Stratton is scheduled to be sentenced on March 3, 2021.