Most of us agree that the harsh penalties in place for poachers are appropriate for the crime. Still, it’s hard to imagine losing your hunting privileges for 15-20 years and not appealing the decision. But that’s exactly what happened for a father and son pair who were found guilty of poaching a bear. Colorado Parks and Wildlife released the following:
Father, son from Indiana paying steep price for poaching bear near Aspen, lengthy suspensions remain in effect
Two Indiana poachers guilty of illegally killing a 400 lb bear near Aspen during the 2016 season will serve the full, lengthy suspension of their hunting and fishing privileges, as administered by a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hearings Officer last year. Both men failed to complete an appeal application in March, forfeiting their right to have their case heard by CPW commissioners.
Dan Roe, 55, of Tipton, Indiana, will serve a 20-year suspension for his role in the crime. His 27-year-old son Alex Roe, also from Tipton, will serve a 15-year suspension. An accomplice, Pablo Gutierrez, 54, of Aspen, had his privileges suspended for one year.
Under the terms of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, anyone under suspension cannot legally hunt or fish in 47 states until the suspension expires. In Colorado, a person has the right to appeal the terms of their suspension to the CPW Commission. After public discussion during regular meetings, commissioners vote to either deny or approve an appeal, based on aggravating, or extenuating circumstances.
“I don’t know why they didn’t follow through with their right to appeal but either way, in my opinion, the length of the suspensions are warranted in this case,” said Kurtis Tesch, a district wildlife officer from Aspen and a primary investigator. “These individuals not only took the bear illegally, they concocted an elaborate story in an attempt to hide their crime.”
By law, Colorado bear hunters must prepare the animal’s meat for human consumption and bring the head and hide to a CPW office for a mandatory inspection within five days after taking the bear. In addition, hunters must provide an exact location of where they killed it. It was during that process at CPW’s Glenwood Springs office where the Roes’ tale began to unravel.
Tesch gave credit to an observant CPW customer service representative that checked the bear’s hide.
“She noticed right away that things were not adding up and needed further investigation; she was 100 percent correct,” said Tesch. “While the hide was being inspected, the Roes talked about how they had killed the bear off a Forest Service road they couldn’t identify, how tough it was to pack-out the large animal but they didn’t have the meat because they had donated it to nearby campers. In reality, we discovered they killed the bear at the Pitkin County landfill. They took only the hide and wasted the meat, then falsified documents. Even after we began looking into the situation, they continued to lie about it.”
Tesch says both men returned to Indiana believing they had evaded authorities; however, working with CPW investigators, Indiana conservation officers served warrants and discovered incriminating evidence at the residences of both men, helping to seal their legal fate.
“The fact that conservation officers work cooperatively across state lines is often overlooked by poachers,” said Tesch. “We thank Indiana’s conservation officers for their invaluable assistance and cooperation.”
In an agreement with the 9th Judicial District District Attorney’s Office in early 2018, both Roes received a two-year deferred judgment sentence after agreeing to plead guilty to willful destruction of wildlife – a class-five felony. In addition, they each pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wildlife, hunting on private property without permission and waste of edible wildlife, all misdemeanors charges.
As an additional condition, the Roes agreed to donate $2500 each to Colorado’s Operation Game Thief, a wildlife violation tip line.
Gutierrez, found guilty of helping the Roes commit the crime by driving them to the area of the Pitkin County landfill, earned a conviction for hunting on private property without permission and a warning for illegal possession of wildlife. He paid a fine of $139.50 in addition to the one-year suspension.
“This was not hunting – this was poaching, one of the most serious wildlife crimes you can commit,” said Tesch. “We strongly urge the public to report illegal wildlife activity. In many cases, that’s the only way we can bring a poacher to justice.”
The public can report wildlife crimes to Operation Game Thief by calling 877-265-6648. You will remain anonymous and rewards are available if the information leads to an arrest or conviction.