September 26, 2006
Colorado - A Kentucky resident and two West Virginians have paid
fines of more than $8,800 dollars for illegally getting a jump on Colorado's
muzzleloader elk season. Donald G. Wilshire of Georgetown, Kentucky was cited by
Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) officers for shooting an elk with a
muzzleloader rifle before the opening of the muzzleloader season. Darrell G.
Wilshire and Betty J. Wilshire, both of Oak Hill, West Virginia, were cited for
unlawfully transferring a hunting license to another person and using an
electronic device to further a wildlife crime.
Officers were alerted to the group in 2005 by hunters who suspected illegal
activity in extreme eastern Mesa County, south of the community of Silt. Alert
officers noticed the arrival of the suspects in the area this year and started
watching to see if any illegal activity would occur.
District Wildlife Managers Will Spence, Brian Gray, and JT Romatzke were joined
by a DOW investigator to monitor the Wilshire's camp near West Willow Creek and
USFS Road 841. On Sept. 5, officers witnessed Donald Wilshire leave the family
camp and proceed to a nearby hunting area where he used a scoped muzzleloader
rifle to shoot and kill a bull elk. Donald radioed back to the camp and
instructed Betty and Darrell to drive to town and purchase the proper hunting
license to cover the kill.
Colorado's muzzleloader season ran Sept. 9-17, thus the kill occurred outside
the proper season. It is also 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 non-transferable 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 also against state law.
On Sept. 6, officers from the DOW entered the Wilshire camp and confronted them
with the evidence against them. During the course of the investigation it was
also determined that Donald Wilshire had committed a similar violation in the
killing of a cow elk in 2005.
Donald G. Wilshire, 41, was cited for illegal possession of a bull elk,
unlawfully receiving another person's license, hunting outside and 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, Donald
paid $5,000 in fines and was assessed 95 points against his hunting and fishing
privileges in Colorado.
Betty J. Wilshire, 59, and Darrell G. Wilshire, 61, were cited 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 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 be held to determine the length of any potential suspensions.
"This was a blatant, premeditated and repeated poaching method used by this
family," said DOW officer Will Spence. "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," said DOW officer Will Spence.
Sportsmen, landowners, or citizens who observe or suspect poaching activity can
anonymously contact Colorado's Operation Game Thief toll-free at 1-877-COLO-OGT
(1-877-265-6648). Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT at no cost. Callers do
not have to reveal their names or testify in court. Rewards of up to $1,000 are
offered for information that leads to an arrest or a citation being issued.