Meeker outfitter charged in felony hunting violations

DENVER I Big-game hunting outfitter Dennis Rodebaugh, 69, of Meeker, and hunting guide Brian Douglas Kunz, 54, of Augusta, Wis., were indicted by a federal grand jury Aug. 24 on charges of conspiracy and violating the Lacey Act, the Department of Justice, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colorado Division of Wildlife announced.
According to the indictment, Rodebaugh has operated a Colorado big game outfitting business called “D&S Guide and Outfitter” since 1988, offering multi-day elk and deer hunts to scores of non-resident clients in the White River National Forest for between $1,200 and $1,600. The indictment alleges that Kunz has worked seasonally as a guide for Rodebaugh since 1997. The indictment alleges that each summer between 2002 and 2007, the defendants guided and outfitted numerous clients, on hunts in which deer and elk were shot from tree stands near which Rodebaugh allegedly placed hundreds of pounds of salt each summer as bait. The placement and use of bait to hunt big game is unlawful in Colorado. The interstate sale of big game outfitting and guiding services for the unlawful taking of big game with the aid of bait constitutes a felony violation of the Lacey Act.
“With this year’s archery season about to start, this indictment serves as an important reminder that there are criminal consequences for illegal baiting,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “Violations of this kind are the theft of a public resource for commercial gain. As we have for many years, this office will continue to vigorously pursue these types of environmental crime cases.
“Big-game hunting is an important tradition and management tool in Colorado,” said Bill de Vergie, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “Our anti-baiting regulations promote equal access and fair-chase hunting: baiting is cheating, pure and simple.”
Each of the indictment’s 10 felony counts carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The indictment also contains a forfeiture claim against vehicles and equipment used in the commission of the Lacey Act violations.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
“Our officers were involved in the investigation,” said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the DOW’s northwest region. “We worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to provide them with information.’