Colorado Crimes: Bighorn sheep poacher wanted, $1,000 reward

$1000 for poacher in the Poudre Canyon-

That is near Ft. Collins, CO.
Story: Colorado Crimes: Bighorn sheep poacher wanted, $1,000 reward. By Kiernan Maletsky. The Latest Word

I put this story up after a request from a blog reader near the area.







  1. jon Avatar

    Poaching NEEDS to be made a felony. I’m sick and tired of these scumbag poachers getting a slapt on the wrist.

    1. wolfsong Avatar

      Jon – I agree with you 100%, poaching DOES need to be made a felony. Growing up in the Black Hills, every hunting season the DOW agents set up a weekend road block about a 1/2 block from our home. Year after year I watched as hunters would try to go through with illegally taken deer and other out of season wildlife. They would hide their “illegals” under tarps and then put their tagged animals on top, they would put them on the floors of their cars and cover them with blankets, and some even tried tying them UNDER their trucks. I would say that on an average 20-25% of vehicles had poached game in them and this was just ONE roadblock.

      I also rescued fawns whose mothers were shot by poachers, we heard the shots and within an hour found the fawns. To me this is a double crime and leaving a fawn to starve to death is just plain evil.

      Every time wildlife is poached it is a crime against you and I and it is a crime against nature. Time after time I see poachers getting busted and they get their hands slapped. The 11 man group that had been poaching for 10 years got a average of an $8,000 fine and lost their licenses for 2 years. Considering the amount of game they took OUT in those 10 years and most likely made money off of, the $8,000 was just a drop in the bucket. 2 years? Give me a break!

      The more and more people see that the punishment is nothing more than a hand slap, the more people are going to give it a try. However, if it became a felony with the potential to go to jail, then perhaps that would be enough deterrent.

  2. wolf moderate Avatar
    wolf moderate

    I agree that poaching is unacceptable, but for a 1st offense it should be only a misdemeanor and a fine that fits the animal poached. A bighorn is more valuable than a coyote for instance. Repeat offenders should be treated harshly and depending on the circumstances should be charged with a felony IMO (or whatever society deems as an exceptable deterent, not what one nut job that constantly posts on…no not me). A man/woman that shoots a doe or cow to feed his family should not be treated the same as some guy who goes out and shoots trophy game just to put on the wall.

    Some of you have serious control issues. People racing mountain bikes or competing in any events in the mountains shouldn’t be stopping “to smell the roses” for #*@& sake (related to other thread. Just had to say how ummm interesting the posts were)! Every poacher shouldn’t be charged w/ a felony either.

    1. mikarooni Avatar

      That’s your opinion. I also don’t think you’re really a wolf MODERATE at all.

      1. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        Everything on this site is opinion lol. Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m actually “pro” wolf. Just think that the states should manage them. They are not endangered, thus the wolves are taking valuable resources from species that are truly at risk of extinction.

        Between 13,200 and 16,500 Gray wolves in the US.
        Between 52,000 and 60,000 Gray wolves in Canada.

        Then there are lots more in Russia and other places around the world. I don’t appreciate people using the wolf debate to fund raise.

    2. jon Avatar

      No, every poacher should be charged with a felony whether it’s their first time or not. Save your excuses. Excuses are for the weak. What thing you fail to comprehend is that poachers have probably been poaching long before they finally get caught.

      1. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        You are so naieve it’s not even funny. We are so broke as a country as it is. It’s true that Ppl who poach HAVE probably done it before, same w/ drinking and driving, spousal abuse, Illegal drug use etc…Do you know how many more prisons we’ll need to build? And you liberals are whining about budget cuts now, wait till’ Jon starts locking everybody up for redlight tickets 😉

        Wolves aren’t endangered. It’s not an “excuse” it’s a FACT! Using money to monitor wolves is taking funding from other more deserving species that are truly endangered. Also not an excuse, but a fact.

      2. jon Avatar

        This isn’t about wolves. This is about poaching. Stay on topic. What’s your reason for all the poachers killing animals and not taking the meat?

      3. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        Good point Jon. Sorry, started to drift way off topic…easy to do on the interwebs.

        Not sure what you are talking about. “What’s your reason for all the poachers killing animals and not taking the meat?”. How do you know that “all poachers’ are killing animals and not taking the meat. I would bet big money that if you add up all the deer in america and divide it by the number of hunters who kill a deer only for it’s atlers you’d be surprised. Probably better odds of getting struck by lightning. Same goes w/ elk, moose, turkey etc…

        The above assumption probably would not work w/ black bears because so many are killed so the chinese can get it up and don’t take any of the meat.

      4. jon Avatar

        I mean the poachers who are killing wildlife illegally and not taking the meat. A poacher in WY not too long ago shot a mountain lion and their kitten. Cut the mother’s head off and left the rest there. Poaching should be a federal offense. Too many poachers are getting slaps on the wrist and it’s disgusting. it send a bad message. Once a poacher, always a poacher.

    3. jon Avatar

      You sound like you are defending poachers. What if a poacher kills 6 elk, should he charged with a felony if its his first time? As I said, you can bet these poachers who get caught, probably poached some animals before getting caught. Once a poacher, always a poacher until they get caught.

      1. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        I am defending first time offenders from felony charges, with a few caveats Jon. 1. If an endangered animal is poached. 2. Wanton waste (ie, only taking antlers/leaving meat to rot). Success rates for the typical elk hunter averages between 8-40% depending on the state. That’s one elk every 2.5-12.5 years (that you actually draw a tag). Odds of tagging a deer are a bit better. When I take the odds of drawing tags and then actually “harvesting” an ungulate, I can understand the predicament that the poor face. Not condoning poaching but I do have compassion for the people who face the decision on whether to break the law to feed there family or face food shortages. This is why poaching should not be a felony in most instances…IMO.

  3. JB Avatar

    The problems with making poaching a felony in all cases are insurmountable, in my opinion. For example, the costs associated with incarcerating people are exceptionally high, and the potential impact to the poacher’s family is substantial (i.e., loss of bread-winner, income, reduced ability to find employment). A better penalty, at least for first time offenders, would be a more substantial fine (deterrent) and mandatory community service (repayment for society’s loss).

    1. WM Avatar

      I agree. However there is something to be said about a pelting with rotten tomatoes, or hanging the rotting remains of the poached animal around the neck of the convicted offender while chained to a post in a public place

  4. Alan Avatar

    “A man/woman that shoots a doe or cow to feed his family should not be treated the same as some guy who goes out and shoots trophy game just to put on the wall.”
    I agree with that to a point; but when I was growing up we were poor, I mean DIRT poor. I can remember adding water to the same old bleach white chicken for two weeks and calling it soup. The only thing in it, a piece of broken up bread subbing for noodles, and maybe some celery or a carrot or two. Don’t dare touch the meat. That would be another meal when you couldn’t get any more broth out of it. Still, no one in my family ever broke the law.
    Often anti-wolf folks like to throw figures around saying that x number of elk (for example) are really killed by wolves for every one confirmed. I wonder how much wildlife is poached for every one confirmed?
    It seems, from all the stories we are reading, that poaching is the real threat to our wildlife. Is the problem really that bad, or is it just that we are seeing a lot of high profile cases right now?

    1. jon Avatar

      I agree that poaching is a real threat to wildlife. Poaching is not really discussed as wolves are blamed most of the time for lower elk numbers. I believe poachers kill many more animals than some of us think.

      1. PointsWest Avatar

        jon…next time you are out West, why don’t you try and document a poaching. If poaching is so common, a wise, clever, and educated person such as yourself should have no problem discovering and documenting dozens of poachings.

        I grew up in Ashton, Idaho, was a fisherman, a hiker, a hunter, a snowmobiler, a boater, a cross country skier, a horse rider, a river floater, and spent countless hours in the outdoors in Fremont and surrounding counties and in some 22 or so years I discoverd two poachings…once I saw a guy shoot some deer from a road and once on my snowmobil I came across some Mexicans that had killed three deer down by the river… and, yes, I turned them in.

        In this same 22 year period, I myself killed 20 deer and 7 elk legally. My dad killed something like 35 deer and 20 elk. My brother killed 10 deer and 3 elk. I personally saw the legal killing of hundreds of deer and dozens of elk in this period in and around Fremont County.

        I will give you, jon, $5000, if you can discover even one poaching yourself. I will even cover the expenses of your excursion provided it is you that discovers the poaching. You can stake areas out. You can drive roads. You can use remote cameras. You can use dogs. It should be easy for you to discover one of the hundreds of poachings that ocurrs in your imagination. So let’s see you discover even one in the real world.

      2. Connie Avatar

        I agree.

      3. Brian Ertz Avatar


        that it is difficult to bust a poacher in the act is precisely the reason that it is not unreasonable to suggest that many more than are documented occur.

      4. PointsWest Avatar

        …as it is to document Bigfoot. I am not saying Bigfoot does not exist, however.

  5. wolf moderate Avatar
    wolf moderate

    “It seems, from all the stories we are reading, that poaching is the real threat to our wildlife. Is the problem really that bad, or is it just that we are seeing a lot of high profile cases right now?”

    IMO, we are seeing many more reported cases of poaching due to the amount of press lately concerning wolves. Wolf advocates are trying to tie the supposed decline in elk numbers to human poachers rather than wolves.

    I think it is possible that there has been a small increase in poaching due to the difficulty in drawing decent elk tags. Luckily in Idaho it is still quite easy to get tags, but when I lived in Oregon it was near impossible to draw cow elk tags (in areas that have decent success rates). Not condoning the uptick in poaching, just stating possible reasons.

    1. JB Avatar

      Hmm…I disagree. I would posit that any recent increase in poaching deer/elk is likely attributable to the poor economy (at least among people with lower incomes).

      1. Elk275 Avatar

        I would agree with JB, but maybe the real reason for increased poaching is the ease of cut and paste. A few years ago poaching incidents were only reported in the affected counties weekly newspaper. Now it is easier to search the Internet and discover poaching incidents that ten years ago few knew anything about.

      2. Save bears Avatar

        I would agree with Elk, The ease of gathering information has made it seem worse than it really is, I would say, based on my experience, poaching is no more prevalent than it has been in the past, but we are able to find out about it a lot easier now than in the past. When you throw in those who do nothing but search the net for reports of this, the of course it looks like it is increasing. Of course I am of the belief that not so much that things are increasing, it is just more people are paying attention now. Anyone with an internet connection is all of a sudden an AP award winning reporter!

      3. Nancy Avatar

        I agree with JB, not only poor economy but just how easy is it to go out hunting say 3 or 4 times a week and shot an elk each time, bringing along the original tag just in case someone does question you? Especially if you know a nice remote area with little traffic? Isn’t it pretty much on the honor system to stop at check points? How many might have been doing it for years and decided to set up alittle “side” business, knowing good friends & neighbors aren’t gonna say anything if they can fill their freezers for bargin prices?

        Kind of like cattle rustling. Heard its been on the rise over the last few years. Wouldn’t think it would be if these people didn’t have a nice outlet for their stolen goods. And how much of that, are predators getting the blame for?

  6. wolf moderate Avatar
    wolf moderate

    Yes, the economy definately is another factor. Basically there are many factors that have contributed to the increase in poaching (real or conceived). Economic reasons is one, lack of tags another, and wolves also (no issue w/ this, but it’s another influence).

    The ease in which people are able to post the stories on websites, as elk275 brought up, is probably the biggest reason why there are so many stories in regards to poaching.

    I stand by my assumption that I posted above about wolf advocates trying to blame the perceived elk decreases on poaching which is silly IMO. Poaching has been a constant over the years and I do not believe that their has been a sudden spike in poaching. A slight increase due to lack of tags, the economy etc…YES. But not to the extent that some are trying to portray.

    1. Brian Ertz Avatar

      perhaps it would be reasonable to apply the same reasoning to the incidents of wolf predation on livestock … seems every time a predation occurs – it hits the news, heightening perception of conflict …

      1. Bob Avatar

        most depredations don,t hit the news at least where I live in western Montana. Montana fish and game don,t release the news most the time to protect those involved. Goes back to the intimidation issue again. Most of my neighbors who had cattle killed by wolves got phone calls, then when wolves were removed the threats got worse. Just like a post by Ralph earlier depredation by all predators are increasing more predators less prey. Each area has its own micro system here we have lots of all predators and a hard snow, going to be a hard winter on prey.

    2. wolf moderate Avatar
      wolf moderate

      Good point Brian.

  7. PointsWest Avatar

    Why not make the intentional killing of an endangered or threatened species a felony? …or is it a felony already? In fact, why not set aside a pool of money for a reward for information leading to the conviction of an intentional killing of an endangered or threatened species.

    In general, I think the poaching laws are a little harsh in some cases and a little lenient in other cases. Overall, they may be fair.

    Endangered or threatened species are a different matter entirely in my opinion. It is a much greater offence to the public to knowingly kill a Grizzly than kill one too many ducks.

  8. jon Avatar

    If you look at these #s, you will clearly see poaching is a big problem in Montana.

    1. jon Avatar

      And the most disgusting thing about this besides the killing of wildlife is most of these poachers were probably not even brought to justice and if they were, it’s was probably a simple slap on the wrist. The laws need to get much stricter.

      1. PointsWest Avatar

        jon…these were citations. There were only 43 elk citations. They could be for things like shooting after hours or for killing a wrong sex.

        This is 43 citations out of how many legally taken elk?

        I agree that poaching should policed and poachers should be brought to justice but it is not nearly as large of problem as you and other make it out to be. I do believe most poachers are never cited. But the numbers when compared to winter kills and predation and legal kills are reletively small…significant maybe, but small. Again, I think it needs to be policed and poachers be brought to justice.

  9. SEAK Mossback Avatar
    SEAK Mossback

    I recall one rather incredible incident in Yellowstone in the 1960s or early 1970s that didn’t seem to make any news (I can find no trace of it on the internet now either) but made the rounds word-of-mouth among park residents. It involved a sheep hunt by the family that owned one of the largest (if not the largest) taxidermy businesses in the world (at the time) on Mt. Norris of all places! That’s not just wandering a little over the boundary. NPS investigators got wind of it somehow after the fact and managed to get a search warrant and seize photos of the sheep they killed and find and photograph the exact same locations with distinguishing features on the mountain, beyond reasonable doubt. However, the defendents no doubt had the best legal help that money could buy and were somehow able to plant enough doubt around the argument that the rams could have been packed up on Mt. Norris for photographs! (The hunters of course had licenses for the unlimited license area north of the Park).

    There! Maybe that story will be enough to lure back Bob Jackson.

    1. Elk275 Avatar

      Is that a family from Bridger, Montana or where?

      1. SEAK Mossback Avatar
        SEAK Mossback

        Elk275 –
        I don’t want to get too specific since my understanding is that there was no conviction and my information is old and at least 3rd hand. Although it was a very prominent name at the time, they were not based in any of the states bordering Yellowstone. Therefore, I figured they probably had local help, but never heard.

    2. PointsWest Avatar

      I remember some story that was in the news in the late 70’s about some guy and maybe a friend or two who where were living like moutain men in Montana just north of the Park. They lived off moose and elk meat and sold furs (don’t recall what type) for money to buy lead, powder, surgar, coffee, etc. They got slapped pretty bad. It seems like they got jail time. The irony was that a century earlier, what they were doing was perfectly legal but in 1978, it got them a long vacation the big house.

      I had been considering doing the same thing (living like a mountain man) as I was going through my rebellion period in the late 70’s 🙂

      1. wolf moderate Avatar
        wolf moderate

        I want to do it now! Probably could do it for a year or two before the authorities even realized it. Where I was contemplating this is rugged country in central Idaho. I wouldn’t poach, just “squat” on federal lands. Don’t really see an issue with it….other than the winters 🙂

      2. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        I was on a little-used off road trail way out in the backcountry in a jeep with a couple of friends about three years ago outside of Curlew, WA and ran into a couple of squatters. They did not appreciate our presence and it was an awkward and tense encounter. Since then I’ve wondered how many squatters actually do live tucked away out there on public lands.

  10. Mtn Mama Avatar
    Mtn Mama

    I dont see how the economy is to blame in these poaching cases- these poacher are not eating the meat- they are cutting the heads off the animals and leaving the carcass to rot. In some cases they arent even taking the heads, they just shoot to kill. Look at all the alerts on the Colorado Divison of Wildlife about poached animals. And while I agree that poaching a duck, coyote or elk may have less of an impact on that particular species’ population then poaching an endangered species, it is a crime and a total disprespect for life none the less.
    *I have a 1st cousin who killed 4 deer out of season all on the same day- his justification was that the deer were on family property. He used the meat to feed his dogs.
    He has a master’s degree and is willing unemployeed. No we didnt turn him in but can assure you that he got a tounge lashing from some of the family and a promise to turn him in if it ever happens again.

  11. mikarooni Avatar

    What’s all this goodwill toward poachers? I’ve seen herd behavior in humans; but, this kind of group race to the bottom is amazing. If poaching is acceptable if people are out of work, then is rape acceptable if the perpetrator is lonely?

    1. PointsWest Avatar

      There is a slight difference between poaching and rape, I’m afraid. One involves the terrible abuse of a human being, the other does not.

      In Idaho, Wyoming, or Montana 125 years ago, there was no such thing as poaching because there were no game laws. People could kill whatever animal they wanted (unless someone owned it) and in any number and could kill it anytime of year. The ethics behind the game laws are about preserving animal numbers…mostly for hunting in succeeding years. Hunters wanted game managed so the game would not all disapear in a short period of time (and yes it was hunters who got State to pass poaching laws). Game laws reflect this interest in animal numbers with two or three deer areas, bull-only elk hunts, and even quotas in the number of tags issued for a given hunting unit. The game laws are only about preserving the animals for succeeding years…nothing else, and these laws were created by and for hunters. There are exception in the National Parks and endangered species. In some areas, such as New Mexico, all the elk were dead by 1900 and it was hunters who reintroduced them and petitioned the State to pass game laws to protect and preserve the elk.

      Rape, on the other hand, is wrong and has always been wrong. It has never been ethical or fully accepted at any point in history anywhere on the planet. Can you see the difference rape and poaching? Please let me know if you cannot and I will explain further.

      As for herd behavior…what about the herd behavior of vilainizing hunters and infering that many or most hunters are poachers? …especially in light of the fact that it was hunters who created the game laws which made poaching unethical and a crime.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan