Roan Plateau elk poacher to pay $5,000
Nearly two years ago four men, two of them U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees, were involved in poaching a trophy-class, twelve-point elk on the Roan Plateau.
Thad Bingham, a 44-year-old Fruita man who killed the animal, has accepted a plea agreement and admitted to illegal possession of wildlife, a misdemeanor, and to trespassing, a petty offense. On top of about $200 in court costs, he agreed to pay $5,000 as a donation to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
Three other Western Slope men participated in the illegal hunt on private property in October 2014: Brian Scheer, 45, Barrett Rowles, 48, and Joshua Fitzsimmons, 45.
Bingham and Sheer worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Horsethief Canyon Native Fish Facility Ponds, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Anna Munoz said both men still work for the agency, but she couldn’t comment on whether the service punished them.
“Poachers come from all walks of life but everyone is subject to the same rules and regulations,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager JT Romatzke of Grand Junction. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife will prosecute anyone to the full extent in cases like this one. Rather than setting a good example as employees of a federal wildlife management agency, these two individuals and their accomplices instead chose to violate the law in an egregious manner, and that is a real shame.”
CPW was alerted to the poachers when Bingham posted a photo online of himself with the animal. Using landmarks in the background, CPW officers determined the location was well within private property.
The officers searched the location of the kill for evidence. They obtained warrants and searched Bingham’s home and the fish hatchery, and retrieved the animal’s antlers at his home.
“This was good work by all officers involved,” said Romatzke. “We say this over and over, and we cannot stress this enough, if you commit a wildlife crime, no matter who you are, we are going to do what we can to find you. Colorado Game wardens know every rock, tree and canyon in the state and are constantly on the lookout for people that ignore our wildlife laws.”
All four men were initially charged with illegal transportation of wildlife, failure to contact the landowner prior to entering private property to pursue wounded game, illegal possession of a trophy class 6-by-6 bull elk, all misdemeanors, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They also faced a petty offense of trespassing.
The Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office pleaded all of the other three men down to petty offense trespassing.
A CPW hearing officer will also determine whether to level a five-year suspension of these four men’s hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado. That penalty could also extend to 43 other states with which Colorado has a wildlife violator compact.
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