DENVER (CBS4) – A Georgia man paid fines of more than $40,000 for illegally getting Colorado hunting licenses. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials announced on Tuesday that Douglas Crookston, 41, entered a guilty plea to 42 counts in Adams County Court last month.
CPW began its investigation into Crookston in February 2019 when an officer Scott Murdoch got information suggesting Crookston was claiming to be a Colorado resident to get licenses even though he moved to Duluth, Georgia, in February 2017.READ MORE: When I See A 50% Chance Of Rain In The Forecast, What Does That Really Mean?
Crookston purchased licenses and hunted in Colorado for several years after the move. He posted photos and videos to YouTube and other social media, clearly documenting when and where certain wildlife were taken.
CPW said it was apparent Crookston was aware he was breaking the law because he would have licenses he got through the state draw sent to a friend’s house in Rangley and he kept a vehicle registered to a relative’s Colorado address.
“I believe that Mr. Crookston hoped that investigators would just think that this whole thing was a big mix up and move on,” Murdoch said in a news released.
Wildlife officers in Montana and Georgia helped in the investigation, eventually seizing six big game animals, a bull elk, a bear, two mule deer and two pronghorn.
“While license fraud cases are no the typical ‘poacher’ case, CPW takes these cases very seriously,” Murdoch said. “Colorado residents are entitled to certain privileges that out of state residents are not. This comes in the form of license prices, license draw odds and license allocations. When non-resident claim Colorado residency fraudulently, all wildlife taken become illegal. They are essentially stealing money from CPW and opportunity from lawful residents.”READ MORE: Colorado Weather: Monsoon Storms Return Sunday, But Focus Shifts A Bit West
Crookston was charged with 42 misdemeanors. He pled guilty to 15 counts including making false statements, hunting without a valid license and two counts of illegal possession, one of trophy mule deer and one trophy bull elk.
Because those animals met the minimum size to receive the “Samson” trophy designation, each has a fine of $10,000. Crookston was fined a total of $41,700.
The judge sentenced him to two years supervised probation and suspended all hunting, fishing and trapping related activities.
The conviction means CPW could suspend all his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges not only in Colorado but also the other 48 states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator compact for up to five years.
“We investigate crimes like this both to protect the wildlife of the state, but talso to protect the interests of legal and ethical hunters here in colorado as well as other states,” Murdoch said.
“That is really important. We have a strong heritage in Colorado of hunting, fishing and trapping, that is what pays for wildlife conservation, but only when it is done right.”MORE NEWS: Boat Ramps Closed At Three Western Slope Reservoirs, Closures Expected At Blue Mesa As Water Level Drops
“This sends a clear message that wildlife crimes are not going to be tolerated and that the district attorney’s office is working with CPW to protect wildlife and to protect the interests of legal sportspersons of Colorado.”