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RBC I Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating three additional incidents of illegally killed bull elk in high-quality hunting units in Northwest Colorado, adding to three high-quality bulls illegally killed in Game Management Unit 10 in early November, near the town of Dinosaur.
Two bulls were found along Highway 318 the last week of November northwest of Maybell. Both were estimated to have been killed before Thanksgiving and were entirely field dressed.
The other was found several miles away on Highway 10N, south of Irish Canyon. Thought to have been killed at the end of the fourth rifle season, only the front shoulders and backstraps were removed from that bull.
With the known total of illegally taken elk in this area now at six this year, CPW officials are asking the public for help, reminding residents about a unique, CPW reward program available to anyone who can provide information about the person or persons responsible for killing the high-quality bulls.
“We have a Turn In Poachers, or ‘TIP’ program in addition to our Operation Game Thief tip line,” said District Wildlife Manager Mike Swaro of Craig. “Through TIP, if a hunter provides information about poaching incidents involving big game they may be eligible to receive a quality bull elk license in the unit where the tip was turned in if it results in a conviction for the take of an illegal 6-point bull elk or willful destruction.”
Officials say that instead of a license a person may instead opt for a preference point for any big game species of their choice, including bighorn sheep, for example.
Swaro adds that in the latest incident, the elk were taken in Game Management Units 2 and 201, known for producing some of the largest bulls in the state. It may take a hunter up to 20 years to gather enough preference points to hunt in these units, he said.
“Someone knows who did this and we ask that they do the right thing and come forward,” added Swaro. “Along with the evidence we were able to gather at the scenes and additional information from the public, we should be able to find who did this in due time.”
To be eligible for points or a license through the TIP program, any person providing information must be willing to testify in court, in contrast to Operation Game Thief, a tip hotline that affords anonymity to any person providing information about a wildlife crime.
The CPW officials remind the public that poaching is a serious offense that can lead to felony charges, significant fines, a prison sentence and the permanent loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 43 other Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact states.
“If you saw something or heard something, let us know right away,” Swaro said. “Even if it does not seem like a significant detail, it may be the information we need to find the people responsible. Poachers commit crimes that affect everyone, and the public’s help is critical to bring them to justice.”
To provide information about these incidents, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Meeker office at 970-878-6090 or DWM Swaro at 970-942-8275. To remain anonymous, call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available if the information leads to a citation. Please specify which type of reward you are interested in, OGT or TIP.
For more information about Turn In Poachers, go to www.cpw.state. co.us/aboutus/Pages/TurnInPoachers.aspx. For more information about Operation Game Thief, go to www.cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/OGT.aspx