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Colorado Poacher Pleads Guilty To Multiply Charges

March 6, 2007

Jeff Coldwell, 43, of Firestone, Colorado recently pled guilty to poaching charges

In May of 2006, Jeff Coldwell pleaded guilty to illegal possession of three or more deer in Weld County. In addition to the loss of the illegally taken wildlife, he forfeited his muzzleloader and the court fined him $7,500 with 36 months probation. Coldwell also pled guilty to abuse of public records in Adams County and received a 2 year deferred sentence for false statements made regarding a bear license. The courts donated a portion of his fine to Operation Game Thief.

The abuses also led the Colorado Wildlife Commission to suspend Coldwell’s privilege of applying for, purchasing, or exercising the benefits conferred by all DOW licenses for 20 years. His license privileges are also suspended in 22 Wildlife Violator Compact states.

It all began with a hunch. Wildlife Officer Windi Padia contacted Jeff Coldwell while on ATV patrol in Game Management Unit 20 during the 2005 muzzleloader season. Coldwell had a muzzleloader, but no hunting license in his possession. Noticing a clump of deer hair near his truck, Padia inquired further, but Coldwell denied taking a deer. Coldwell was visibly nervous throughout the contact and told Padia he had been hunting with a family member who had a deer license for GMU 18, about seven miles to the west and over the Continental Divide. After checking the records for Coldwell’s license, Officer Padia found that it was valid for GMU 20 only.

Additional Wildlife Officers, Aimee Ryel and John Koehler, were engaged to conduct interviews in Coldwell’s hometown, whereupon he admitted he had taken a large mule deer buck illegally in GMU 18 and had already transported the cape out of the unit by backpack. Another deer was shot by the licensed family member and both animals were left to rot. Officers hiked to the kill site and located the trophy-quality skinned buck, as well as a quartered buck. The meat was only salvageable on one of the animals.

Now, the full arm of the law reached in--a search warrant was obtained for Coldwell’s residence yielding evidence that Coldwell used another family member's license to tag a buck in 2000. Padia seized Coldwell’s computer and found further evidence of a wildlife violation--emails from Coldwell showed that he had gone bear hunting in 2005 and finding that people were camped near his hunting spot, promptly told a representative from the DOW that he was not able to go on his bear hunt due to medical issues. Six bear preference points were reinstated to Coldwell based on his statements. This fraudulent activity led Officer Padia to charge him with abuse of public records. After disposition of the case in Adams County, his bear preference points were revoked.

In connection with the case, two members of Jeff Coldwell’s family have received citations for wildlife violations and have chosen to pay their fines.

One poaching leads to proof of another

Evidence also seized from Coldwell’s computer revealed information from a 2003 Trophy Hunter magazine article depicting Coldwell in Fox Park, also in GMU 18, with a harvested buck. This evidence prompted Officer Padia to obtain another search warrant for his residence. The buck in question was seized and it was determined that Coldwell poached it in 2003 in GMU 18 during muzzleloader season. He did not have a license for GMU 18 that year.

“Transferring licenses, a form of ‘party hunting’, has severely negative impacts on our wildlife,” said Officer Windi Padia. “Hunting opportunities are regulated for a reason—any additional opportunity created by a poacher is one less opportunity for an ethical hunter. Everyone who values our wildlife should know that poaching doesn’t pay.”

You can help stop poaching. If you see a poaching incident, report it. Poaching is a crime against you, your neighbor, and everyone else in the state of Colorado. Call 1-877-COLO-OGT toll-free or Verizon cell phone users can just dial #OGT. If you'd like, you can e-mail us at game.thief@state.co.us .

 

 

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