High price for poachers

MEEKER I Three Missouri men have paid a high price for deciding to kill bull elk in the Colorado high country last fall without having valid bull elk licenses. In addition to paying hefty fines, the men now face the loss of hunting privileges in Colorado and 34 other states.
The incident was reported by other hunters to Colorado Division of Wildlife Officer Tom Knowles on Oct. 28, 2010, after the three suspects had pulled out of camp and headed east. Responding to an area near East Miller Creek where the men had been reported hunting, Knowles recovered three bull elk carcasses, ballistic evidence and DNA samples.
“We were fortunate that other hunters in the area were able to give us descriptions of the men and their vehicle,” said Knowles. “Without the watchful eyes of true sportsmen, we might never have found out about this crime.”
Based on the descriptions provided, Knowles identified the men as: Craig A. Buzzard, 43, Derek B. Buzzard, 35, and Derek L. Crockett, 28. All three men are from Lamar, Mo. Knowles’ subsequently used the Colorado Division of Wildlife license database system to determine that the men only had licenses to hunt cow elk.
Knowles contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation and asked them to assist in questioning the men about their hunt. Missouri officers were able to obtain evidence and statements from the men confirming that they had illegally shot and killed the three bull elk. Missouri Conservation Officer Scott Brown, who covers the Lamar area, seized the elk meat and elk heads from the men.
All three men were issued citations for hunting without a proper license and illegal possession of wildlife. Craig and Derek Buzzard and Crockett each paid fines of $2,851.50 and were assessed 30 points against their hunting privileges. Anyone who is accumulates more than 20 points within a five year period goes through an administrative hearing process to determine if they will lose those privileges for a period of one year to five years, depending on the nature of the violation.
“We appreciate the assistance of not only the public in this case but the help from Wildlife Conservation Officer Scott Brown and the other members of the Missouri Department of Conservation,” Knowles added.
The Division of Wildlife considers poaching to be a serious crime. Sportsmen and other citizens who have knowledge of violations of Colorado’s wildlife laws may report that information by calling Operation Game Thief at 877-COLO-OGT (877-265-6648) or their local Colorado Division of Wildlife office. Callers to OGT may remain anonymous.
Learn more about Operation Game Thief at: http://wildlife.state. co.us/RulesRegs/LawEnforcement/OperationGameThief.