Meeker man loses appeal on conviction for poaching

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MEEKER I Convicted poacher and former outfitter Dennis Eugene Rodebaugh, 73, of Meeker, Colo., learned Aug. 25 that his appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has failed, affirming the 41-month prison sentence and fines he received in early 2013 for illegally baiting deer and elk with salt.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigators, between 2002 and 2007, Rodebaugh and an associate used large quantities of salt to attract elk and mule deer to an area in the White River National Forest where he had installed tree stands, enabling their clients to easily kill the animals.
In September 2012, a jury in Denver found Rodebaugh guilty of six felony violations of the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the transportation of illegally taken wildlife across state lines, applicable because most of his clients came from out of state.
“Our investigation was thorough and accurate and the original sentence was fair and equal to the crimes committed by this individual,” said District Wildlife Manager Bailey Franklin of Meeker, who led the investigation. “We believe the court made the right decision on the appeal.”
Officials say Rodebaugh earned approximately $250,000 from the illegal hunts over the five-year period of the investigation; however, authorities believe he may have earned much more from his illegal activity over the approximately 20 years he operated his now dissolved outfitting business, D & S Guide and Outfitters.
“Because he was baiting big game, Rodebaugh advertised a 90-percent success rate, attracting hunters from across the country,” Franklin said. “He did this for pure greed, making quite a bit of money operating in this manner.”
In addition to the prison term, the court affirmed other portions of Rodebaugh’s original sentence, including the payment of $37,390 in restitution to the state, the forfeiture of two all-terrain vehicles and a trailer, and his post-release ban from outfitting, guiding and using hunting stands.
“Those who unlawfully poach or aid in poaching of wildlife can have significant effects on local populations of wildlife, which, in turn, affects opportunities and success of law abiding hunters,” said Steve Oberholtzer, the special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serice. “This is especially true when commercial profit is involved, such as in this case.”
“Rodebaugh willfully violated numerous laws, put his clients in legal jeopardy and damaged habitat,” said Area Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie of Meeker. “The court’s affirmation confirms what we knew all along—justice was appropriately served in this case.”
To report suspicious wildlife activity, contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Verizon phone users can call #OGT. Rewards may be available if the information leads to a conviction.