RED FEATHER LAKES, Colo. (CBS4) — Two members of a hunting party from New York state were cited Wednesday for tracking and killing a bull elk on a private ranch property.
Those men face suspensions that could prevent them from hunting for at least a year almost anywhere in the nation, including their home state.
Jason Clay, a spokesman for Colorado Parks & Wildlife, said other hunters witnessed four hunters crossing onto the ranch property Tuesday and phoned in a report to the state’s Operation Game Thief tipline.
The ranch owner told a CPW officer there was no permission given to access his property or to hunt animals on it.
That officer’s K9, Cash, led him to one of the hunters and, later that day, to a kill site on the ranch property.
From that site, the CPW officer obtained a hide of the bull elk that had been harvested by the hunters.
The following day, that officer visited the camp of four hunters from New York. They were all legally licensed and denied any wrongdoing.
However, when the officer threatened to match the recovered hide to one to the two harvested elk at the camp by means of DNA testing, a second member of the hunting party confessed to killing it on private property.
That second hunter, Clay said, faces a $1,500 fine and suspension of his hunting license for poaching. A judge will determine the length of the suspension.
The first hunter was cited for trespassing and not wearing required blaze orange hunting gear. He also faces a possible one-year suspension of his license.
CPW’s Clay said it could not be determined whether the second harvested elk was killed on private or public land.
The suspensions cover hunting privileges in 48 of the nation’s 50 states, meaning the two hunters could lose their ability to legally hunt in their home state of New York, too. Only Hawaii and Massachusetts are not part of the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact that was first formed in 1989 by Colorado, Utah, and Oregon.
The other two members of the hunting party were not penalized.
Had the hunted bull elk been a six-point (six points on each antler) or larger, the poaching fine would have automatically increased an additional $10,000, Clay said. This according to the Samson Law passed in the 1990s after an iconic Estes Park elk named Samson was illegally taken down by a crossbow hunter inside the city limits.
Cash is one of CPW’s two K9s.
Operation Game Thief:
Callers do not have to reveal their names or testify in court. A reward of $500 is offered for information on cases involving big game or endangered species, while $250 is offered for information on turkey and $100 for fishing and small game cases. A Citizens Committee administers the reward fund, which is maintained by private contributions. The Board may approve rewards of up to $1,000 for flagrant cases. Rewards are paid for information that leads to an arrest or a citation being issued.