Poacher fined for bagging elk on ranch
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have cited David Lee Burner, 61, of West Virginia, with “hunting on private property without permission” and “illegal possession” of a 6×6 bull elk, which was taken on Devil’s Thumb Ranch property in Tabernash earlier this month.
Burner was fined a total of $11,509.50 for his role in the incident, which included a $10,000 penalty that applies when trophy-quality wildlife is poached.
“We first received a tip from a concerned hunter who witnessed a suspected trespassing incident in Devil’s Thumb Ranch,” said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager in Hot Sulphur Springs. “After the ranch owners found evidence of trespass on their property, they informed us and then assisted us in the investigation.”
Information provided by ranch personnel included an eyewitness account of a vehicle with West Virginia plates seen in the area two days after the incident, the exact location of a boned-out, elk carcass found on the property and photos of the carcass.
Officers also recovered the bull’s head, which provided forensic evidence that helped match the confiscated antlers to the head.
Additional evidence included photos of Burner’s hunting party, provided by the hunter who first observed what he suspected was trespass activity.
With the evidence that was provided, Sidener and District Wildlife Manager Gene Abram were able to locate Burner’s hunting party. After contact was made it was determined by the officers that he was the responsible individual.
Burner admitted his guilt to the officers and paid his penalty assessment the next day.
“This is a classic example of how the public and landowners can help us,” Sidener said. “Often, it is this kind of information that provides the details necessary to solve poaching cases.”
Poaching remains a serious concern and public information about illegal wildlife activity helps Colorado Parks and Wildlife to identify and prosecute poachers.
To report illegal activity you can call “Operation Game Thief” toll-free at 877-265-6648. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward if information leads to a poacher.
“Poachers take away opportunity from the thousands of responsible sportsmen in the field,” Sidener said. “They steal wildlife from everyone and we need help to stop them.”
To learn more about how to help solve a poaching case, visit wildlife.state.co.us/rulesregs/lawenforcement/operationgamethief.
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