Hunters cited for poaching elk | AspenTimes.com

Hunters cited for poaching elk

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent

Three out-of-state hunters have paid fines of more than $8,800 for an early jump on muzzleloader elk hunting season.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers cited Donald G. Wilshire of Georgetown, Ky., for shooting an elk with a muzzleloader before the opening of muzzleloader season. Darrell G. Wilshire and Betty J. Wilshire, both of Oak Hill, W.Va., were cited for unlawfully transferring a hunting license to another person and using an electronic device to further a wildlife crime.

Hunters who suspected illegal activity in extreme eastern Mesa County, south of Silt, alerted officers to the group in 2005. Officers noticed the arrival of the suspects in the area this year and put them under surveillance.

District wildlife managers Will Spence, Brian Gray and J.T. Romatzke joined a DOW investigator to monitor the camp near West Willow Creek and Forest Service Road 841. On Sept. 5, officers witnessed Donald Wilshire leave the camp and proceed to a nearby hunting area, where he used a scoped muzzleloader rifle to shoot and kill a bull elk. He then radioed back to the camp and instructed Betty and Darrell to drive to town and purchase the proper hunting license to cover the kill.

The muzzleloader season ran Sept. 9-17. It is illegal in Colorado to use a scope on a muzzleloader outside of the regular rifle seasons, which do not begin until October. Additionally, it is illegal for an individual to purchase a license after killing an animal. Licenses are also nontransferable, and it is illegal for someone to kill an animal using another person’s license. Using a radio to communicate information to further a wildlife crime is against state law.

On Sept. 6, officers from the DOW entered the Wilshire camp and confronted them with the evidence. During the course of the investigation it was determined Donald Wilshire had committed a similar violation in the killing of a cow elk in 2005.

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Donald Wilshire, 41, was cited for illegal possession of a bull elk, unlawfully receiving another person’s license, hunting outside an established season, and possession and transfer charges related to the 2005 incident. Donald was also issued a warning citation for conspiracy, hunting without daylight fluorescent orange and failing to properly void an elk license. In all, he paid $5,000 in fines and was assessed 95 points against his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado.

Officers cited Betty Wilshire, 59, and Darrell Wilshire, 61, for illegal possession of a bull elk, unlawful transfer of a license and unlawful use of an electronic device. Betty and Darrell each paid $1,918 in fines, and both were assessed 45 points against their hunting and fishing privileges.

The muzzleloader and radios used in the crime were seized, and application has been made with the court system for forfeiture of the items.

Because the three individuals were all assessed more than 20 license suspension points, they also face the loss of their hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 23 other Wildlife Violator Compact states. An administrative hearing will determine the length of any potential suspensions.

“This was a blatant, premeditated and repeated poaching method used by this family, and this activity might have continued if it weren’t for the help of the ethical hunters who reported last year’s suspicious activity to us,” Spence said.

Sportsmen, landowners or citizens who observe or suspect poaching activity can contact Colorado’s Operation Game Thief anonymously, toll-free, at (877) COLO-OGT (265-6648). Callers do not have to reveal their names or testify in court. Rewards of up to $1,000 are available for information that leads to an arrest or a citation.