Tennessee men fined for Flat Tops bear poaching | AspenTimes.com

Tennessee men fined for Flat Tops bear poaching

Post Independent staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Two Tennessee men were fined thousands of dollars and must forfeit hunting privileges for five years after pleading guilty to killing and dismembering a black bear sow on the Flat Tops in August.

One of the men shot and killed the bear with a bow, and the two men cut off all four of the bear’s paws before pushing the carcass off a cliff, according to an investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Harley Boss Manley, 51, of Martin, Tenn., and David Ronnie Coleman, 62, of Union City, Tenn., both pleaded guilty in Garfield County Court to charges of killing a black bear before Sept. 1, the start of the fall bear hunting season.

Manley, who shot the bear with his bow, was ordered to pay a fine of $4,000, to donate $6,000 to Operation Game Thief, and to forfeit his bow. His hunting privileges were revoked for five years, and he received a two-year deferred prison sentence for felony willful destruction. He must remain on supervised probation for the duration of the sentence.

Coleman was fined $3,000, ordered to donate $4,000 to Operation Game Thief, a Colorado tip line for wildlife infractions, and lost hunting privileges for five years.

In exchange for their guilty pleas, the judge dropped additional felony charges of tampering with evidence and other misdemeanor charges against both men.

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“This was a serious offense these two men committed,” said Perry Will, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Glenwood Springs. “It took considerable man-hours and investigation to bring them to justice, and my officer is to be commended for his excellent work in this case.”

On Aug. 28, District Wildlife Manager Dan Cacho learned of a possible wildlife violation in the Dolan Gulch area of the White River National Forest, north of Glenwood Springs.

At the site, Cacho discovered evidence that a large animal had been killed, leading him to investigate a nearby camp where he discovered further evidence of a recent kill. No one was in the camp at the time.

The following day, he made contact with a hunting party at the same camp. After further investigation of the campsite and extensive interviews with the men at the camp, including Coleman, Cacho discovered additional evidence and information that an illegal hunt had possibly occurred.

Later that day, Cacho located Manley and another individual hunting at the same watering hole where Cacho suspected the animal had been killed. During questioning, Manley eventually confessed that he had illegally shot a female bear with his bow earlier in the week and that with Coleman’s help, disposed of the carcass by throwing it off a nearby cliff.

Upon finding the carcass, Cacho discovered that all four of the bears’ paws had been removed. The paws were later found in Manley and Coleman’s possession.

“Manley expressed remorse for illegally killing the bear, and claimed that he ‘regretted it immediately,'” said Cacho. “However, hunters should always be responsible and ethical, and a lapse in judgment like this is very serious, as the fines and sentences in this case indicate.”

Cacho says that he and his fellow wildlife officers investigate all violations thoroughly.

“Poachers are criminals that steal wildlife from the citizens of Colorado, and take opportunities away from legitimate hunters,” continued Cacho. “The public’s help is critical to stop them, and we encourage anyone with information about poaching or other wildlife violations to contact authorities immediately.”

To provide information about illegal wildlife activity, contact Operation Game Thief toll-free at (877) 265-6648. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash rewards for information that leads to a poacher.

To learn more about how to help solve a poaching case, please visit: http://wildlife.state.co.us/RulesRegs/LawEnforcement/OperationGameThief/Pages/OGT.aspx.