Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigating poaching case near Rifle
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking a suspect who reportedly shot and killed a trophy quality mule deer buck near Rifle Sunday to come forward.
The incident came one day after a separate case of poaching in the same area, which CPW described in a news release as a private subdivision.
Witnesses told CPW they saw a person step out of a truck, shoot the buck and drive away without the carcass around 5:30 p.m. Sunday. The eyewitnesses also reported the suspect was driving a gray, crew cab Ford that may have dual real tires. The truck has marker lights on the cab and marker lights on the side view mirrors.
“Based on where the buck died and the location of the shooter, it is very fortunate that a round did not enter a nearby home,” Levi Atwater, district wildlife manager, said in the news release. “There are numerous legal and ethical issues involved here. This person shot a trophy mule deer from the road, left the carcass, and took a dangerous shot that endangered the lives of others.”
Wildlife officers were able to salvage the meet and donate it to a local family, according to the media release.
CPW said that Atwater collected useful evidence at the scene, but he called on the suspect to come forward immediately.
“Along with what we found and the great information from the eyewitnesses, we believe we will find the person quickly,” Atwater aid. “However, I do recommend that this person do the right thing and come forward right away. We will consider that when we assess penalties in this case.”
This area has seen several poaching incidents in recent years, including the case on Saturday. Atwater said he charged a couple of people for poaching a mule deer in that case.
“The residents of this subdivision are very concerned about this illegal activity and are working together to find the culprits and prevent this from occurring in the future,” he said.
In an unrelated incident, a wildlife officer responded to a possible poaching case Saturday morning in the Silt Mesa area north of town.
In that case, several hunters killed two bull elk on the edge of private property located off Odin Drive, according to JT Romatzke, area wildlife manager in Grand Junction.
“The landowner did not want to press any charges and told the guys they were free to take the animals,” Romatzke said.
While Romatzke was unclear of the exact details, hunters are ultimately responsible for knowing the boundary lines for private and public lands.
“You need to know where you’re at and where the property lines are,” he said.
Anyone with information regarding the kill on Grass Mesa is instructed to call Atwater at 970-985-5882. To provide information about a wildlife violation anonymously, the public can contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648, by dialing #OGT from a Verizon phone or by email at email@example.com. Rewards are available if the information leads to an arrest or citation, according to CPW.
Visit cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/OGT.aspx for more information about Operation Game Thief.