Three Colorado men have been temporarily banned from hunting and fishing after pleading guilty to several charges in a poaching incident in October 2012. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recently handed down the suspensions after a lengthy investigation.
"Colorado Parks and Wildlife takes poaching extremely seriously," said Sabrina Hurwitz, district wildlife manager.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers began investigating Christopher Abeyta, Robert Abeyta, and Jay Zunk after a landowner reported that the men were shooting at a coyote on his property without permission.
"We rely on the public to provide us with information on poaching incidents of which we are not aware. If you see anything that might be considered poaching or is suspicious please contact the nearest Colorado Parks and Wildlife office immediately," said Hurwitz.
According to the landowner, on October 6, 2012, he saw three men shooting at a coyote in his direction. The men were inside a vehicle that was later found to belong to Robert Abeyta. The coyote ran to an adjacent property where the men shot at it again and killed it.
A thorough investigation, involving multiple CPW officers, eventually led to the three men and evidence of other poaching incidents involving big game animals including pronghorn. The three men faced multiple charges including taking wildlife without a proper and valid license, illegal possession of wildlife and use of a motor vehicle while hunting. Each individual reached a plea agreement.
Christopher Abeyta pleaded guilty to taking two pronghorn without a proper and valid license, among other charges, and was fined $2,301. He has also been suspended from any hunting or fishing until December 1, 2017.
Robert Abeyta pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wildlife and failure to comply with the provisions of a license. He received a $1,029 fine and has been suspended from hunting or fishing until December 1, 2015.
Zunk pleaded guilty to entering private land to hunt without permission, hunting from a motor vehicle and hunting coyotes without a proper license. He was fined $561 and can not hunt or fish until December 1, 2014.
The suspensions for these three individuals carry over to other states that are members of the Interstate Violator Compact Agreement. There are currently 38 member states in the compact. Colorado, Nevada and Oregon were charter members of the compact when it was initiated in 1991.
To report poaching or suspicious activity contact your local District Wildlife Manager or Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT. Email tips can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Callers to Operation Game Thief may remain anonymous if they wish.