Colorado: Elk poacher hit with $11,500 fine

Grand County case solved with help from hunters

Bull elk, Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A West Virginia man will pay an $11,500 fine for poaching Colorado wildlife. The fine includes a $10,000 penalty that applies when trophy-quality wildlife is poached — in this case a 6×6 bull elk taken on Devil’s Thumb Ranch property in Tabernash earlier this month.

David Lee Burner, 61, was cited for “hunting on private property without permission” and “illegal possession” of the elk after wildlife officers got a tip from another hunter.

“We first received a tip from a concerned hunter who witnessed a suspected trespassing incident in Devil’s Thumb Ranch,” said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager in Hot Sulphur Springs. “After the ranch owners found evidence of trespass on their property, they informed us and then assisted us in the investigation.”

Information provided by ranch personnel included an eyewitness account of a vehicle with West Virginia plates seen in the area two days after the incident, the exact location of a boned-out, elk carcass found on the property and photos of the carcass.

Officers were also able to recover the bull’s head, providing forensic evidence that could help match the confiscated antlers to the head. Additional evidence included photos of Burner’s hunting party, provided by the hunter who first observed what he suspected was trespass activity.

With the evidence, Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager Gene Abram and Sidener were able to locate Burner’s hunting party. It was during this contact that the officers determined that Burner was the responsible individual. Burner then admitted his guilt to the officers and paid his penalty assessment the next day.

“This is a classic example of how the public and landowners can help us,” continued Sidener. “Often, it is this kind of information that provides the details necessary to solve poaching cases.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds the public that poaching remains a serious concern.

“Poachers take away opportunity from the thousands of responsible sportsmen in the field,” said Sidener. “They steal wildlife from everyone and we need help to stop them.”

To provide information about illegal wildlife activity contact Operation Game Thief toll-free at 877-265-6648. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash rewards for information that leads to a poacher.

To learn more about how to help solve a poaching case, please visit:


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