Residents stalk poachers too close to home | VailDaily.com

Residents stalk poachers too close to home

Lynn Burton/Glenwood Springs Correspondent

Kim Mechling and her family had just sat down for breakfast when high-powered rifle shots rattled the house.

“It was really loud,” Mechling said. “They’d never been that close to the house before.”

Mechling and her husband, Ned, and 5-year-old daughter Charlie live in the Crystal Lake View subdivision in Spring Valley, southeast of Glenwood Springs.

A herd of about 100 elk take refuge there this time of year, Mechling said, because the property in that area is all private.

“They bed down here to avoid hunters,” Mechling said.

Private land or not, four hunters spotted the elk near Mechling’s house right at dawn on Nov. 5 and blasted away, according to Mechling and her neighbor, Mary Brickner.

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Together, Mechling and Brickner were able to report the hunters to the Colorado Division of Wildlife – or, DOW – and furnish eyewitness accounts of the hunters’ actions.

“One was dressed in a black shirt,” Mechling said.

“Three were in camouflage, like they’d just returned from the war in Iraq or something,” Brickner added. “They definitely weren’t wearing orange.”

Kelly Wood, DOW wildlife manager, responded to Mechling’s call and within a couple of hours issued two citations to Brian Brookman, 36, of Carbondale.

One citation was for hunting on private property without permission, said Pat Tucker, the DOW’s district wildlife manager in Glenwood Springs, and the other for unlawful possession of a cow elk.

DOW law enforcement office spokesperson Lisa Martinez said the fine for unlawful possession of an elk is $1,000.

Brickner said she was standing on her deck in her pajamas and jacket when she heard the shots. She immediately called Mechling, to see if she could see what was going on through her window.

While Mechling was reporting the shots to the DOW, Brickner grabbed her binoculars and lit out to follow the hunters, still dressed only in her pajamas and jacket.

“I was so mad. I was livid,” she said. “It made my blood boil. The animals are supposed to be protected here.”

After Mechling called the DOW, she also called the out-of-town property owner where the alleged killing took place, and confirmed the hunters did not have permission to hunt there.

Meanwhile, Brickner took a position on a hill looking down at the hunters and watched through her binoculars from about 300 feet away.

“I don’t think they saw me,” she said.

Brickner saw two of the hunters load an animal into the back of their white pickup truck, but couldn’t tell whether it was an elk or deer.

“All I could see was a leg dangling out,” she said.

Brickner has lived in her Spring Valley house for four years and this was the first time something like this has happened.

“I’m glad hunting season is over,” Brickner said. “I never thought I’d be so glad to see it end.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

lburton@postindependent.com