Game thieves … Gotcha!

Folks, I happen to really like folks from Akansas. But even in the best kettle of Cod, there are a few that stink up the barrel.

ARKANSAS MEN GUILTY IN COLORADO POACHING INCIDENT

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has wrapped up the poaching case against six Arkansas men with the final two suspects entering guilty pleas in Moffat County District Court.

In late 2005 Colorado Wildlife Officer Mike Bauman began hearing stories about a group of Arkansas hunters who were poaching in the Bible Back Mountain area south of the Colorado-Wyoming border. During the 2006 hunting seasons Bauman was able to determine that a group of men from Arkansas were, at a minimum, buying leftover licenses for Game Management Units 4 and 12 but most likely hunting in Game Management Unit 5.

In 2007, wildlife officers set up a hunting camp in the area and posed as hunters to gather evidence against the group. Officers were able to document two deer that were killed without proper licenses, trespassing on private land, wounding of deer without following up on shots as required by law, and the illegal killing and willful destruction of one buck deer by two members of the hunting party.

“It was blatant poaching. At one point, individuals in the Arkansas camp were seen shooting and killing a deer then tying the head to a tree so they could later return and claim the antlers,” Bauman explained. “The incident occurred on private land the men had no permission to enter and in a unit for which they didn’t have a license.”

It was determined that the hunters were staying across the Wyoming border and Colorado officers contacted investigators with Wyoming Game and Fish to request assistance with monitoring the group at and around their Wyoming motel.

As the Arkansas hunters were packing up and preparing to leave for home, Colorado wildlife officers caught up with part of the group to interview them and charge the suspects. Additional members of the group were detained by Wyoming officers who also collected evidence from the hotel and from a Wyoming meat processor. Based on interviews with the group, wildlife officers determined that, in addition to the 2007 violations, at least three deer were illegally killed in 2006. Assistance was requested from wildlife officers in Arkansas who collected evidence from the men’s homes.

“We appreciate the cooperation we received in this case from Wyoming Game and Fish and Arkansas Game and Fish,” added Bauman. “While we had some of the charges locally, the evidence that was obtained from previous years and from the hotel made it possible to show an ongoing pattern of poaching violations.”

Based on the investigation the following individuals were charged:

William Newton (DOB 06/06/1983), Hampton, Arkansas
Plead guilty to following charges as part of plea agreement:
1 count – Illegal take of three or more big game animals
2 counts – Waste of edible game wildlife
1 count – Illegal possession of a deer
4 counts – Hunting without a license
Sentencing: 30 days in jail, $9,500 fine plus court costs, forfeiture of rifle and illegally taken wildlife.

Bradley Shankles (DOB 06/21/1983), Hampton, Arkansas
Plead guilty to following charges as part of plea agreement:
1 count – Felony willful destruction of wildlife
2 counts – Hunting without a license
2 counts – Illegal possession of a deer
1 count – Waste of edible game wildlife
1 count – Defacing a firearm
Sentencing: Deferred sentence on felony willful destruction charge, fine of $5,000, four year ban from hunting in the United States, four years of supervised probation, $2,000 donation to Operation Game Thief, forfeiture of rifle and illegally taken wildlife.

Richard W. Carson (DOB 03/14/1964), Hampton, Arkansas
Plead guilty by payment of citation
1 count – Failure to pursue wounded wildlife
1 count – Hunting deer without a license
1 count – Illegal possession of a deer
1 count – Unlawful trespass on private property
Warning – hunting without orange clothing
Carson chose not to contest the charges and instead plead guilty by paying $2,041 in fines. He was assessed 65 points against his hunting privileges.

Michael B. Welch (DOB 07/18/1983), Bearden, Arkansas
Plead guilty by payment of citation
1 count – Hunting deer without a license
1 count – Illegal possession of a deer
Warning – Failure to tag
Welch chose not to contest the charges and instead plead guilty by paying $1,781 in fines. He was assessed 30 points against his hunting privileges.

Anthony Moser (DOB 05/02/1987), Hampton, Arkansas
Plead guilty by payment of citation
1 count – Hunting deer without a license
1 count – Illegal possession of a deer
Moser chose not to contest the charges and instead plead guilty by paying $1,781 in fines. He was assessed 30 points against his hunting privileges.

Harlan C. Welch (DOB 01/12/1976), Hampton, Arkansas
Plead guilty by payment of citation
1 count – Uncased rifle on an ATV
Warning – Unlawful trespass on private property
Welch chose not to contest the charges and instead plead guilty by paying a $68 fine. He was assessed 5 points against his hunting privileges.

Five of the six men still face an administrative hearing process that will be conducted by the Colorado Wildlife Commission. Anyone assessed more than 20 points against hunting and fishing privileges is subject to wildlife hunting suspension hearings. The men could lose their hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 27 other states that are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact. Hearing dates have not yet been set for the men.

“Colorado has the largest migratory mule deer and elk herds in the nation,” concluded Ron Velarde, Northwest Regional Manager for CDOW. “Because of that spectacular resource we attract hunters from around the world. We welcome those who come here to experience what our great state offers, but we absolutely will do everything possible to catch those who believe that our remote areas provide enough cover to cheat and steal from Colorado’s citizens and true sportsmen.”

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For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

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