Illegal activities? Pay a hefty price

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Illegal hunting-related activities also include interfering with hunting.

This year, Colorado Division of Wildlife officials are looking out for people who "herd" animals by trying to move them onto private property or keep them on private property.

"We from time to time get people who call the DOW to say they were hunting in an area and saw someone herding animals," said DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. "It's an issue that is very difficult for us to address."

It often happens in remote areas, and officials generally don't hear about it. Herding is illegal because it goes under the category of harassing animals, Hampton said.

Harassing wildlife is a misdemeanor that comes with a $100 fine and 10 points off of a license.

Hunters who accumulate too many points risk losing their licenses for anywhere from a year up to a lifetime. The fine can be charged for each animal involved in the herding incident.

Also, preventing or interfering with hunting is a misdemeanor that comes with a $500 to $1,000 fine and 20 license points off.

Hampton says anyone who sees anything suspicious should call the DOW.

"We are certainly committed to looking into this issue," he said.

Hunters themselves face a variety of fines.

If someone is caught killing game without a license or using someone else's license, the fines can add up to thousands of dollars. Hunters also run the risk of having their hunting privileges suspended in Colorado and 18 other states.

"It starts to add up," Hampton said.

Not having a proper license will cost hunters twice the amount of the most expensive license for that species. For a deer, that is $580.

Depending on the circumstances, the hunter also could be charged with illegal possession of an animal, which is $1,000. Each offense is 15 points.

Offenses also can pile up when people "party hunt," meaning one person kills an animal to fill a tag belonging to someone else in the group. Both parties are ticketed, one for illegal transfer of a license and the other for illegal killing of an animal. Both would face charges of illegally possessing an animal.

If someone makes an honest mistake, Hampton recommends contacting the DOW. Covering the mistake up only makes the situation worse.

"Someone will come out and work it out," Hampton said.

The biggest fines come for those who kill trophy animals without the proper license. Those fines can be as high as $25,000 and come when hunters illegally bag big horn sheep, bull moose, or four-point bull elk.

Hampton said the DOW is cracking down on out-of-state hunters who try to purchase resident licenses. In the past, Hampton said, out-of-state hunters have claimed Colorado residency and had the DOW send their licenses to a friend's house in Colorado.

In-state licenses are easier to obtain and are cheaper. For elk, a resident license is $30, and a nonresident license is $485.

With better technology, an improved license system and data connectivity, the DOW can track hunters more easily.

Those who illegally claim to be residents get a $1,000 fine and 15 points on their licenses. Hunters also could be fined for the illegal killing and possession of an animal, which quickly accumulates to more than $2,000 in fines.

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