Man accused of poaching due in court

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A Grand Junction man who wildlife officials say poached an elk near Dinosaur will be arraigned next week in a Meeker courtroom.

William Robert Howard, 34, is charged with two counts of hunting elk outside an established season, two counts of illegal possession of wildlife, waste of wildlife, willful destruction of wildlife and two counts of sale of wildlife.

If convicted on all charges, Howard faces up to nine years in prison, fines up to $314,000 and the lifetime loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 20 other states.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers arrested Howard at his Grand Junction home on March 30.

Howard is accused of shooting a large bull elk on Colorado Highway 64, south of Dinosaur near the Moffat County-Rio Blanco County line in January. The animal's head was removed, and its body was left to rot on the side of the road, according to the division.

Based on tips and results of forensic analysis, Howard was identified as a suspect in the case, according to a statement from the DOW.

He was arrested because of statements he gave investigators and evidence recovered through a search warrant, according to the statement.

DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said Howard is charged with sale of wildlife because officers believe he sold the animal's antlers.

If community members had not provided tips, DOW officers never would have made the arrest, said James Romero, district wildlife manager in the Rangely North district.

"Watchful residents, alert local law enforcement and help from the local media contributed to pulling together the pieces of this complex investigation," Romero said.

Hampton said that in most poaching cases, tips from the public play a major role in the division's investigation.

"We rely heavily on information we get from the public," Hampton said.

The division still is investing a separate Moffat County poaching incident from last winter.

The second incident occurred in mid- to late December in the Wild Mountain area along the Utah border, near Dinosaur National Monument.

Two bull elk were killed, and the carcasses were left in a pile under a tree. The antlers had been removed, and the remaining carcasses went to waste, according to the division.

Hampton said DOW officials do not think there is a connection between the two incidents.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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