Colorado poacher gets big fine after illegal elk killing

Bull elk in morning sun, Rocky Mountain National Park.
A Colorado elk poacher will lose his license and pay more than $14,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous violations of hunting laws. @bberwyn photo.

Three other men also face fines for related crimes

Staff Report

A Colorado man has been ordered to pay more than $14,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous poaching charges charges.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 59-year-old Melvin Weaver killed three bull elk on the Uncompahgre Plateau west of Montrose last fall, then called friends and told them to come to the location and to use their licenses to claim the animals as their own. In Colorado, hunters can only tag animals that they have shot themselves.

CPW investigators became involved after a tip from a concerned hunter and eventually charged Weaver with numerous violations of hunting laws. In a press release, the agency said Weaver pleaded guilty to two counts of illegal hunting, take and possession of big game; two counts of illegal big-game hunting without a license; and one count of illegally taking a trophy-sized elk.

A district court judge in Montrose has ordered Weaver to pay $14,832.50 in fines. In addition, CPW confiscated a hunting rifle, an all-terrain vehicle and other hunting equipment valued at about $20,000. Weaver was also assessed 60 penalty points against his hunting and fishing privileges. Accumulation of 20 points usually leads to a license suspension of at least one year. Weaver will face a CPW hearing officer to determine how long his privileges will be suspended.

After receiving the tip about the case on Oct. 29, CPW wildlife officers tracked down Weaver and three others involved. Weaver was arrested on Nov. 3. Three other men involved have been cooperative in the investigation but they have not yet been charged. They face fines ranging from about $200 to $1,200.

“When possible we will confiscate property that’s used during the act of the crime,” said Garett Watson, the district wildlife manager who led the investigation. “Not only will we take rifles, we’ll take other hunting equipment and vehicles, Watson said, explaining that the consequences for poaching can be severe.

Watson also said that the tip about the incident was very helpful. Without the tip CPW might never have found out about the illegal activity.

Anyone with information about wildlife crimes can call a local CPW office or Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be made anonymously.


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