Tuesday, November 14, 2006



A Kentucky resident and two West Virginians have paid fines of more than $8,800 dollars for illegally getting a jump on Colorado's muzzleloader elk season. Donald G. Wilshire of Georgetown, Kentucky was cited by Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) officers for shooting an elk with a muzzleloader rifle before the opening of the muzzleloader season. Darrell G. Wilshire and Betty J. Wilshire, both of Oak Hill, West Virginia, were cited for unlawfully transferring a hunting license to another person and using an electronic device to further a wildlife crime.

Officers were alerted to the group in 2005 by hunters who suspected illegal activity in extreme eastern Mesa County, south of the community of Silt. Alert officers noticed the arrival of the suspects in the area this year and started watching to see if any illegal activity would occur.

District Wildlife Managers Will Spence, Brian Gray, and JT Romatzke were joined by a DOW investigator to monitor the Wilshire's camp near West Willow Creek and USFS Road 841. On Sept. 5, officers witnessed Donald Wilshire leave the family camp and proceed to a nearby hunting area where he used a scoped muzzleloader rifle to shoot and kill a bull elk. Donald radioed back to the camp and instructed Betty and Darrell to drive to town and purchase the proper hunting license to cover the kill.

Colorado's muzzleloader season ran Sept. 9-17, thus the kill occurred outside the proper season. It is also illegal in Colorado to use a scope on a muzzleloader outside of the regular rifle seasons, which do not begin until October. Additionally, it is illegal for an individual to purchase a license after killing an animal. Licenses are also non-transferable and it is illegal for someone to kill an animal using another person's license. Using a radio to communicate information to further a wildlife crime is also against state law.

On Sept. 6, officers from the DOW entered the Wilshire camp and confronted them with the evidence against them. During the course of the investigation it was also determined that Donald Wilshire had committed a similar violation in the killing of a cow elk in 2005.

Donald G. Wilshire, 41, was cited for illegal possession of a bull elk, unlawfully receiving another person's license, hunting outside and established season, and possession and transfer charges related to the 2005 incident. Donald was also issued a warning citation for conspiracy, hunting without daylight fluorescent orange, and failing to properly void an elk license. In all, Donald paid $5,000 in fines and was assessed 95 points against his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado.

Betty J. Wilshire, 59, and Darrell G. Wilshire, 61, were cited for illegal possession of a bull elk, unlawful transfer of a license and unlawful use of an electronic device. Betty and Darrell each paid $1,918 in fines and were assessed 45 points against their hunting and fishing privileges.

The muzzleloader and radios used in the crime were seized and application has been made with the court system for forfeiture of the items.

Because the three individuals were all assessed more than 20 license suspension points, they also face the loss of their hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 23 other Wildlife Violator Compact states. An administrative hearing will be held to determine the length of any potential suspensions.

"This was a blatant, premeditated and repeated poaching method used by this family," said DOW officer Will Spence. "And this activity might have continued if it weren't for the help of the ethical hunters who reported last year's suspicious activity to us," said DOW officer Will Spence.

Sportsmen, landowners, or citizens who observe or suspect poaching activity can anonymously contact Colorado's Operation Game Thief toll-free at 1-877-COLO-OGT (1-877-265-6648 ). Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT at no cost. Callers do not have to reveal their names or testify in court. Rewards of up to $1,000 are offered for information that leads to an arrest or a citation being issued.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: Colorado Department of Natural Resources

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