Book Cliffs poaching yields big fines
A lengthy investigation during the spring and summer of 2003 culminated in the arrest and recent conviction of four defendants from Grand Junction, Colo.
Ryan Hernandez, 23, Jarrod Houck, 21, Brison Cole, 22, and Evan Stevens, 23, were collectively charged with 12 counts of Wanton Destruction of Protected Wildlife, Aiding and Assisting in the Wanton Destruction of Protected Wildlife and Attempting to Take Protected Wildlife without a valid permit.
The charges are classified as Class A and Class B misdemeanors in Utah.
The defendants pleaded guilty to all the charges and were fined a total of $7,540. Their big game hunting privileges are also in jeopardy of being suspended for several years.
The case opened when Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officers received reports from concerned citizens about dead deer in the Book Cliffs area west of Mack, Colo. Several deer had been found with their heads removed.
A major break in the case occurred when Colorado Division of Wildlife officers received a tip from a concerned citizen. That tip led to two suspects and their arrests.
Subsequent interviews and further investigation revealed that four suspects made several trips into Utah during the fall of 2002. They illegally killed and possessed four deer without valid permits. Some of the deer were shot at night with the aid of a spotlight. The rest were shot during the day.
In Utah, people who observe suspicious activity are reminded to call the toll free Help Stop Poaching hotline at 1-800-662-DEER.