Last week a Colorado hunter received a 27-month federal prison sentence for his role as a big game hunting outfitter, participating in unauthorized mountain lion and bobcat hunts.
Christopher Loncarich, 55, of Mack, CO pled guilty in August to a felony conspiracy charge for selling outfitting services in both Colorado and Utah, according to U.S. Department of Justice news release. Loncarich also pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to purposefully transport or sell wildlife that has hunted, taken, or possessed in violation of state laws. Loncarich was sentenced in Denver.
A federal grand jury indicted Loncarich in January as a result of a three-year investigation for his direct participation in providing several illegal hunts between 2007 and 2010. According to officials, Lonacarich sold cougar hunts for anywhere between $3,500 and $7,500, and bobcat hunts for between $700 and $1,500. The findings of the investigation were disturbing.
“In particular, Loncarich and his confederates trapped, shot and caged mountain lions and bobcats prior to hunts in order to provide easier chases of the cats for clients,” the department said in a statement. “Loncarich also admitted that he and his assistants guided several hunters that did not possess a Utah mountain lion or bobcat license on mountain lion or bobcat hunts in Utah.”
The northwest regional manager of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Ron Velarde, considers Loncarich’s illegal operation one of the worst cases of poaching he has experienced in his nearly 40-year career managing Colorado’s wildlife.
However, Colorado isn’t the only state dealing with issues related to illegal hunting. Several states across the nation are cracking down on illegal hunting and poaching practices in an effort to preserve natural wildlife populations. In Oklahoma, state wildlife poaching investigators are setting “traps” for illegal hunters and poachers by setting up robotic decoys and stake-out operations. So far, the program has been a success, with 80-100 citations being written each season.
Hunters often wear camouflage to disguise themselves from game while hunting, however, even camouflage cannot hide them investigators.