The bighorn sheep poachers might have slunk away, secure in their anonymity, if not for a couple of miners with keen eyes and quick reflexes.

We hope the recent illegal killing of a bighorn ewe near the eastern border of Baker County will accomplish a couple of things.

First, we hope people who travel the county and in particular its far-flung reaches such as Connor Creek, where the sheep was shot on Sept. 29 will, as one of those miners did, jot down notes, take digital photographs and call the police if they see something that seems suspicious.

Second, we hope would-be poachers, fearful that just such a person is watching, will reconsider before pulling the trigger.

It seems unlikely that the 16-year-old Durham boy who is accused of shooting the ewe would have done so had he known a miner would take a picture of the pickup truck parked at the camp the boy and his hunting partners had set up.

There's almost 2 million acres in Baker County, but just a handful of game wardens patrol all that space. The paper-thin odds that a poacher will get caught with his finger on the trigger surely must tempt people whose hunting ethics are similarly skimpy.

But diligent people, like those two miners, can serve as powerful deterrents.