Posts Tagged ‘poaching’


May 18, 2010

EADS, Colo. – The Colorado Division of Wildlife is offering a $1,000 reward for information that might help solve a series of poaching incidents in Kiowa County.

DOW investigators say at least five pronghorn have been shot and abandoned along county roads west of Eads since May 7. All five were found on private property.

“It appears that these animals were shot indiscriminately,” said District Wildlife Manager Todd Marriott. “We’ve found five so far, but there may be more.”

The DOW asks that anyone with information about these poaching incidents call Operation Game Thief. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest or a citation.  In some cases, people who report wildlife crimes may also be eligible to receive preference points or a future hunting license for the same species.

“Poaching is a serious crime,” said Marriot. “It robs all of us of a valuable natural resource – our wildlife. However, if the person or persons who did this come forward and turn themselves in, their cooperation will be taken into consideration.”

Anyone who saw any suspicious activity in Kiowa County is asked to contact Marriott at (719) 340-0279, the Lamar DOW office at (719) 336-6600, or Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648.  Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT, or contact Operation Game Thief via e-mail at


For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Thieves at the Public Table: Poachers or just killers?

April 25, 2010


ALAMOSA, Colo. — The Colorado Division of Wildlife is investigating the killing of five deer on the campus of Adams State College.

The animals were shot at approximately 2 a.m., April 22, and were found by Alamosa police department officers. They notified campus police and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The DOW is the lead agency in the investigation because the crime involves wildlife. The investigation is being coordinated with campus police.

No motive or suspects have been identified.

Anyone who has information about this incident should contact the DOW’s Monte Vista office at (719)587-6900; Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648; or the Adams State police at (719)587-7901.

Reports can be made anonymously to Operation Game Thief, and a reward is possible if a tip leads to a conviction.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:


November 4, 2009

This is the sort of thing that just makes you sick. Another theive at the public trough.


DE BEQUE, Colo. – Three energy companies are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the poaching of a bighorn sheep ram north of De Beque.

On Friday, Oct. 30, investigators with the Colorado Division of Wildlife were notified that a quarter-curl bighorn ram had been poached on private land. Information from people in the area and evidence collected at the scene indicate that the bighorn sheep ram was likely shot between Sunday, Oct. 25 and Tuesday, Oct. 27 by a single shot to the neck. The poacher made no attempt to salvage meat from the animal or to take the head or horns.

“This is the worst kind of poaching case,” said Albert Romero, District Wildlife Manager for the De Beque district. “It appears that someone just shot and killed this animal for no reason at all.”

Chevron, EnCana and Williams have committed a total of $10,000 to the Division of Wildlife reward fund for information that leads to a conviction in this case. Additionally, Operation Game Thief has offered a $1,000 reward and Colorado’s TIPS program may provide tipsters with a bighorn sheep hunting license in exchange for testimony in the case.

The ram, which was part of the De Beque Canyon bighorn sheep herd, had recently wandered into the Kimball Creek area west of Roan Creek Road (Garfield County Road 204). The ram was frequently seen and photographed by area residents and energy workers who travel the road up Kimball Creek. The ram carcass was discovered on private property owned by Chevron.

Criminal charges in this case could include trespassing, illegal possession of wildlife, waste, felony willful destruction, and hunting in a closed unit. If convicted of all charges, the perpetrator in this case could face up to five years in jail and more than $100,000 in fines. Upon conviction the person would also face suspension of their hunting privileges in Colorado and 30 other states.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are the official state animal of Colorado and they appear on the seal of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can qualify for up to $1,000 in reward funds; however tipsters must be willing to testify to qualify for energy company reward funds or TIPS licenses. Operation Game Thief is a program that works with the Division of Wildlife to provide rewards for information in poaching cases. TIPS is a DOW program that provides hunting licenses or preference points for sportsmen who provide information in poaching cases.


Editor’s note: A Chevron employee snapped a photo of the ram days before it was poached. A copy of the photo is available at

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:


September 5, 2009

HOTCHKISS, Colo.–A tip from an observant citizen resulted in a felony conviction for a Hotchkiss poacher who offered big-game meat for sale in classified advertisements published in a local newspaper earlier this year.

Cody Hopkins, 23, pleaded guilty to illegal sale of wildlife, illegal possession of a deer and hunting deer without a license in Colorado District Court in Delta on July 27, 2009. Hopkins was given a one-year deferred sentence and fined $2,002.50.

A hearing examiner for the Colorado Wildlife Commission will also review the facts of the case. As a result, Hopkins may face a suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 30 other states.

Hopkins was originally charged with four felonies. In addition to a conviction on the felony count of illegal sale of wildlife, Hopkins was convicted of one misdemeanor count of illegal take of a deer and one misdemeanor count of hunting deer without a license.

The investigation into Hopkins’ activities began in late January, when the Colorado Division of Wildlife received a call through Operation Game Thief from a concerned citizen who saw a classified ad in the High Country Shopper offering big-game meat for sale.

DOW investigators called the number in February and arranged to meet Hopkins in Hotchkiss where Hopkins sold about 50 pounds of meat to an undercover officer. At the meeting, Hopkins told investigators that the package included deer meat and meat from a cow elk that had been killed the previous weekend.  Hopkins also sold deer and elk meat to undercover investigators on a couple of other occasions.

Hopkins was arrested in April.

Doug Homan, district wildlife officer in Hotchkiss, said that the crimes might have gone unnoticed if not for the concerned citizen.

“We can never emphasize enough how much we rely on citizens to help us by reporting suspected crimes against wildlife,” Homan said. “People who take wildlife illegally are stealing from licensed sportsmen and women and from all the citizens of Colorado.”

Suspected wildlife crimes can be reported to Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be given anonymously and rewards are often provided for information leading to convictions.


For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:


December 22, 2008

Thieves at the public trough again.

SALIDA, Colo. – A Michigan man was fined $15,000 after being convicted of three charges related to killing a Colorado mountain goat without a license.

Burt Vincent, 60, of Jackson, Mich., also faces a potential lifetime suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado, Michigan and 28 other states.

Vincent pleaded “no contest” in Chaffee County Court on Dec. 10 to illegal possession of a mountain goat, illegally killing a trophy animal in Colorado and hunting a mountain goat without a license.

Two others, Jack and Susan Derr of Florissant, Colo., also pleaded guilty to multiple misdemeanor charges related to Vincent’s case and other wildlife crimes discovered during the investigation. The Derrs were ordered to pay $10,000 to the Colorado Operation Game Thief Fund.

The convictions marked an end to a two-year investigation into multiple poaching incidents.

“This case demonstrates how effectively law enforcement professionals from multiple agencies work together,” said Shaun Deeney, an area manager with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) in Colorado Springs

Investigators in Colorado and Michigan began working on the case in 2006 after an informant said that Vincent was in possession of a mountain goat from Colorado. However, there was no record in Colorado showing that Vincent was ever issued a mountain goat hunting license.

Based on the original tip, an undercover officer contacted Vincent at his place of work in Michigan. Vincent told the undercover agent that he had killed a mountain goat, adding that he had also killed a bighorn ram and a bighorn ewe in Colorado over the past several years.

The undercover officer had hoped Vincent would talk about the mountain goat, but didn’t expect to hear about the two bighorn sheep.

“Bighorn sheep and mountain goats are majestic symbols of Colorado’s high country,” said Deeney. “Sheep and goat tags are among the most highly prized hunting licenses in Colorado. Every year, thousands of applicants vie for a just a handful of tags. Vincent and his codefendants literally cheated law-abiding hunters out of a chance for the hunt of a lifetime.”


Wildlife investigators followed a trail that led them Vincent’s hunting partner Jack Derr.  DOW records showed that Derr bought a mountain goat license in 2006.  The DOW license database also showed that Jack’s wife, Susan Derr, bought bighorn sheep licenses in 2000 and 2003.  This matched Vincent’s claim that he killed a bighorn ram and ewe.

Armed with several key pieces of information, two DOW officers interviewed the Derrs at their home in Florissant, Colo., and executed a search warrant on the residence. Meanwhile, Vincent was questioned by Conservation Officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and special investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Michigan.

In tape-recorded interviews, Susan Derr admitted that she let Vincent use her bighorn ram license in 2003 and her bighorn ewe license in 2000.  She stated that she did not kill those animals but that Vincent did.  Jack Derr also admitted that he gave Vincent his 2006 license to tag a mountain goat that Vincent killed.

During the investigation, Vincent admitted that his rifle was used to kill the mountain goat, but claimed Jack Derr did the shooting.  He further claimed that Derr gave him the mountain goat to take back to Michigan because Derr didn’t want it.

“The officers who conducted this investigation should be complimented on their thoroughness,” said Deeney.  “All of the officers involved acted professionally and courteously throughout the entire investigation despite accusations of impropriety by the defendants.”

In addition to the mountain goat violation, investigators also discovered a case involving an illegal elk killed by Vincent in 2005 in Archuleta County.  Vincent was found guilty in that case last August.  He was fined $2,800 for that crime.

Deeney expressed his gratitude to the investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and prosecutors from the district attorneys’ offices in Chaffee, Fremont, Teller, Archuleta, and Larimer counties for their help getting the convictions.

Colorado and Michigan are members of an Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which includes 30 states that offer some of the very best hunting and fishing hunting and fishing opportunities in the country. The compact includes provisions that establish reciprocal license privilege suspension by member states.  Anyone who loses hunting and fishing privileges in one state is also suspended in the others. Colorado was a charter state in 1991 along with Nevada and Oregon.

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact Member States:  Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:


October 17, 2008

Colorado Division of Wildlife officials are seeking information regarding the illegal killing of a Rocky Mountain bighorn ram on Oct. 14 in Mineral County in southern Colorado.

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest of people involved in the incident.

The DOW received an anonymous tip from someone who saw the dead ram in the area of Pool Table Mountain, 1.1 miles up U.S. Forest Service Road 600, about 7 miles south of the town of Creede.

By the time wildlife officers arrived at the location the ram had been removed. Wildlife officials believe the bighorn was shot between 6:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The incident occurred during the first 2008 big game rifle season Within 100 yards of the location three elk had also been shot, presumably legally.

The area where the bighorn was killed is on the border of big game management units 76 and 79.  This area has been closed to sheep hunting since 1993 following a die off of bighorns.

“The herd has been making some progress toward recovery, almost to the point that the DOW is considering opening a season again,” said Brent Woodward, district wildlife manager.

Anyone who has information about this incident should call Woodward at 1-719-850-6336; or Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be given anonymously.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Game Thieves in Colorado

August 1, 2008


The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) has offered a $1,000 reward for information about a recent bear shooting in Trinidad.  DOW officers want information about a 425-pound bear found dead in a yard between Colorado and Kansas Avenues Monday night.

Anyone with knowledge of the shooting should call the “Operation Game Thief” hot line at 1-877-265-6648 or local DOW officer Bob Holder at (719) 680-1410.  According to Holder, a resident said a large bear was sleeping in their yard.  When Holder arrived on the scene, he discovered the bear had been shot.

“There are some circumstances when it is legal to shoot a bear, it is not legal to kill a bear just because it wanders through your property or gets into your trash,” said Holder.

DOW officers say help from the public is often the only way that poachers are apprehended.  One of the best ways to report violations is to call the “Operation Game Thief” hot line at 1-877-COLO-OGT (1-877-265-6648).  Or, they can e-mail Operation Game Thief at  Citizens can remain completely anonymous, and are elligible for cash rewards for their information leads to issuing a citation.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

Pathetic, simply pathetic…

Game thieves … Gotcha!

July 10, 2008

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.


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.”


For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:


June 29, 2008

A Colorado man with a history of wildlife violations pleaded guilty to numerous wildlife related-crimes in a New Mexico district court on June 23.

Kirt Darner, 69, of Crawford, has been convicted of wildlife violations in Colorado dating back to 1994. In 2000, Colorado Division of Wildlife officers started investigating Darner as a suspect in the theft of two bighorn sheep heads from a Montrose taxidermist. In Cibola County, N.M., on Monday, Darner pleaded guilty to transporting wild elk and receiving stolen property – specifically, the two Colorado sheep heads. At the time they were stolen, the sheep heads were estimated to be worth more than $20,000 each.

“We’ve worked on this case for more than eight years and cooperatively with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish for the past three.  I can’t give them or the Cibola County District Attorney’s office enough credit for their hard work and diligence.” said Eric Schaller, an investigator for the DOW. “This case also shows that the Colorado Division of Wildlife will continue to pursue these tough cases for as long as necessary.”

Darner could serve four years in jail and pay a minimum of $10,000 in fines and restitution for the New Mexico charges. A sentencing hearing has not been set. As part of the plea agreement, Darner agreed never to hunt, fish or possess a firearm again. He also is prohibited from working as a guide or outfitter in Colorado and New Mexico.

Previously, in Colorado, Darner was convicted of illegal possession of wildlife in 1994. In 1999 he was convicted of second degree tampering with evidence and careless driving in an incident in which he was serving as an outfitter. DOW officers observed Darner’s client shoot at an elk decoy in a game management unit for which the client didn’t have a license. In 2008 Darner pleaded guilty to making a false statement in order to purchase a license. He had applied for land owner vouchers with the DOW but did not own enough property to be eligible for the program.

While executing a search warrant at the Darner property in 2005, New Mexico wildlife officers discovered a desert bighorn sheep head and a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep head inside Darner’s vehicle. Further examination of the heads indicated they were the same sheep heads that were stolen from a Montrose taxidermy shop in 2000.  The DOW had offered a $5,500 reward for information about the sheep-head thefts.

Darner, a nationally known big-game hunter and guide, and Paula Darner were co-owners of the 40-acre Lobo Canyon Ranch north of Grants when they were indicted in New Mexico in 2006 on 41 felony and misdemeanor charges. Among the charges, the Darners were accused of receiving stolen property and of illegally moving three state-owned elk from the Lobo Canyon Ranch to the Pancho Peaks ranch and game park in southeastern New Mexico in 2005. Charges against Paula Darner are still pending.

If you have information about a wildlife crime, please call Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be made anonymously and rewards are possible.


Editors: For a photo of Kirt Darner to this web page:

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:


April 12, 2008

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is looking for information about a poaching case at the Beaver Creek State Wildlife area in Fremont County.  Someone entered the wildlife area, shot a deer from the roadway, and then left the dead animal.
The incident happened sometime during the first weekend in April.
If anyone has any information, they are asked to call Canon City district wildlife officer Bob Carochi at (719) 276-8844.  Or they can call the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-877-265-6648.  Callers can remain anonymous if they like.
If your tip leads to issuing a citation, you can be eligible for a cash reward.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:

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