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Candidate who joked about Obama hunt charged with poaching

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - A former Republican candidate for Idaho governor, who joked during the campaign about hunting President Barack Obama, was charged with poaching on Tuesday for illegally shooting an elk.

Officials with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said Rex Rammell illegally shot and killed an elk near Idaho Falls, Idaho on November 20, using an invalid hunting tag.

Rammell briefly was in the political spotlight when, at a campaign rally in August last year, a woman asked him about “Obama tags” during a discussion about wolves and hunting. “Obama tags? We’d buy some of those,” Rammell responded.

In the western U.S., hunters must buy a tag that gives them the right to hunt game such as deer or elk.

Rammell got 26 percent of the Republican primary vote in May, finishing second to incumbent Governor Butch Otter, who was reelected last month.

In a telephone interview with Reuters, Rammell called the poaching charge “pure political garbage” and said he has become a target for his outspoken views.

“I’m a public figure who has opposed the establishment on every front,” Rammell said. “I’m sure they realize I’m a potential governor in the future and they will try to take every opportunity they can to damage my future political run.”

The wildlife crime carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and the loss of hunting privileges for three years.

Reporting by Laura Zuckerman, Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune

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