DENVER I Colorado Parks and Wildlife has concluded a three-year poaching investigation involving a Kansas man who owns property in Teller County and his brother who resides in Pagosa Springs.
Kansan William Hessman, 55, and his brother Torry Hessman, 47, have pleaded guilty to several wildlife charges after wildlife officers found evidence that the two had set up bait sites for big game and other wildlife species.
The case originated in August 2011, when Teller County District Wildlife Manager Tonya Sharp received information from a resident about a bait site located near the Gold Camp Subdivision and the Pike National Forest. Sharp searched the location, which was located on William’s property, and discovered hay, a mineral block and a large metal stock tank.
“If it wasn’t for this person’s tip we may never have discovered that this was going on,” Sharp said.
Nearly a year later, Sharp received a report of another bait site located one mile east of William’s residence and in the Pike National Forest. This report also came from a concerned resident.
Because of those tips, wildlife officers conducted surveillance over three years, through September 2013. The investigation involved 14 Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers as well as officers with Kansas Parks and Wildlife. Ultimately, six bait sites were located on private property and on federal lands. A search warrant of William’s property on Sept. 14, 2013, resulted in more evidence and the addition of several new charges.
William Hessman pleaded guilty to 15 charges including: illegal possession of three big game animals (elk, deer, bear), unlawful possession of wildlife (bobcat, turkeys), unlawful use of bait, unlawful hunting without the proper license and unlawfully operating a motor vehicle on federal lands.
William forfeited several items to CPW including his ATV, trail cameras, tree stands and compound bow. He paid the US Forest Service $740 in restitution for damage caused by driving ATV’s off trail and paid $11,731.50 in other wildlife fines and court costs. His hunting privileges have also been suspended for life.
Torry Hessman pleaded guilty to illegal possession of one cow elk and the unlawful use of a motor vehicle on USFS lands. He was fined $1,623.50 and given 25 points, which could suspend his hunting privileges for up to five years.
Hunting any wildlife over bait is illegal in Colorado and any wildlife harvested over bait is considered to have been poached.
To report a poaching case or wildlife violation contact Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648, (877-COLO-OGT). Callers may remain anonymous and cash rewards may be offered for information that leads to a citation or arrest. Tips and information may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.