HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS, Colorado - Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are asking for the public's help in identifying the person or persons responsible for killing a cow moose and her two calves in an empty lot within Mountain Shadows Estates, a subdivision located between Granby and Grand Lake.
On Nov. 14, between 8 and 10 a.m., a witness hunting near the subdivision reported to wildlife officials that he heard several shots fired in rapid succession. Upon investigating, the witness says he found the cow and a calf dead, the other calf dying, and that no one immediately approached the carcasses to claim responsibility.
"This is an outrageous incident," said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. "My officers are preparing an all-out effort to find the person or persons responsible and bring them to justice."
Anyone with information can call Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Hot Sulphur Springs at (970) 725-6200, or Operation Game Thief at (877) 265-6648 if they wish to remain anonymous. Operation Game Thief is offering a $2,500 reward for information that leads to the suspect. Officials from Safari Club International have offered to match this amount, bringing the current reward to $5,000.
"So far, we have a description of a suspicious vehicle, and our investigation turned up important evidence at the scene," said Area Wildlife Manager Lyle Sidener. "With the public's continued help, we are confident that we can find who did this."
In recent years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has conducted extensive public outreach to ensure that hunters properly identify moose while hunting elk. However, wildlife officials do not believe this incident was a misidentification of an animal by a legitimate hunter.
"At this point, we have no reason to believe this was an accident," continued Velarde. "The case is being investigated as a malicious poaching incident."
Individuals who illegally kill a big-game animal and abandon the carcass face a permanent loss of their hunting and fishing privileges, significant fines, felony charges and a possible prison sentence.
"The responsible party still has time to do the right thing and turn themselves in," continued Sidener. "But if they continue to evade authorities, we will do what we can to make sure they face the full consequences of this egregious act."
Anyone who sees suspicious wildlife activity should contact a local district wildlife manager, or Operation Game Thief at (877) COLO-OGT.