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SALIDA — A Michigan man was fined $15,000 after being convicted of three charges related to killing a Colorado mountain goat without a license.
Burt Vincent, 60, of Jackson, Mich., also faces a potential lifetime suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado, Michigan and 28 other states.
Vincent pleaded “no contest” in Chaffee County Court on Dec. 10 to illegal possession of a mountain goat, illegally killing a trophy animal in Colorado and hunting a mountain goat without a license.
Two others, Jack and Susan Derr of Florissant, Colo., also pleaded guilty to multiple misdemeanor charges related to Vincent’s case and other wildlife crimes discovered during the investigation. The Derrs were ordered to pay $10,000 to the Colorado Operation Game Thief Fund.
The convictions marked an end to a two-year investigation into multiple poaching incidents.
“This case demonstrates how effectively law enforcement professionals from multiple agencies work together,” said Shaun Deeney, an area manager with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) in Colorado Springs
Investigators in Colorado and Michigan began working on the case in 2006 after an informant said that Vincent was in possession of a mountain goat from Colorado. However, there was no record in Colorado showing that Vincent was ever issued a mountain goat hunting license.
Based on the original tip, an undercover officer contacted Vincent at his place of work in Michigan. Vincent told the undercover agent that he had killed a mountain goat, adding that he had also killed a bighorn ram and a bighorn ewe in Colorado over the past several years.
The undercover officer had hoped Vincent would talk about the mountain goat, but didn’t expect to hear about the two bighorn sheep.
“Bighorn sheep and mountain goats are majestic symbols of Colorado’s high country,” said Deeney. “Sheep and goat tags are among the most highly prized hunting licenses in Colorado. Every year, thousands of applicants vie for a just a handful of tags. Vincent and his codefendants literally cheated law-abiding hunters out of a chance for the hunt of a lifetime.”
Wildlife investigators followed a trail that led them to Vincent’s hunting partner Jack Derr. DOW records showed that Derr bought a mountain goat license in 2006. The DOW license database also showed that Jack’s wife, Susan Derr, bought bighorn sheep licenses in 2000 and 2003. This matched Vincent’s claim that he killed a bighorn ram and ewe.
Armed with several key pieces of information, two DOW officers interviewed the Derrs at their home in Florissant, Colo., and executed a search warrant on the residence. Meanwhile, Vincent was questioned by Conservation Officers from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and special investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Michigan.