DENVER (CBS4)– A Colorado Parks and Wildlife ranger has been disciplined for poaching but some of his co-workers don’t think the punishment went far enough.
Ranger Travis McKay admitted to shooting and killing a deer at Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area in Las Animas County in October 2013.
“The deer carcass that had been harvested was still warm and some of the times weren’t matching up. So the investigating officer began to push a little bit,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.
During the investigation the officer discovered that McKay had violated several wildlife hunting laws. According to the case report, McKay had shot the deer after hours.
A text message he sent reading “DEER DOWN!!” indicated it was 7:38 p.m. Legal shooting hours end ½ hour after sundown. That day, Oct. 13, sundown was 6:23 p.m.
The officer asked McKay if he shot the deer using a spotlight and McKay responded, “Yes, Sir.”
The deer’s antlers measured 22½ inches which qualifies it as a trophy animal which added additional fines to the growing list of violations.
“He knowingly violated the law. We don’t sugar coat that. He faced significant criminal penalties,” said Hampton.
McKay received fines totaling more than $11,000. He has been demoted to the position of Park Resource Tech which means McKay has administration duties around the parks but is no longer an officer.
“The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Ranger was charged with the maximum criminal penalties available to us,” said Hampton. “This individual as one of our employees faced more discipline than any member of the general public would have.”
Some who work for the department believe McKay was given leniency considering he is familiar with hunting regulations because of his background as a ranger.
The case report does indicate the citing officer knew a passenger in McKay’s vehicle at the time he pulled them over. The officer said he wouldn’t call in a license clearance to avoid public disclosure which would spare them the embarrassment.
However, Colorado Parks and Wildlife insists that was not an attempt at a coverup of the incident.
Hampton added, “We support the decision and we support the citing officer that conducted this investigation.”