Six men from New York and another from Massachusetts have pleaded guilty to illegally poaching deer near Meeker, the Colorado Division of Wildlife reported Wednesday
The men are: David B. Souza, 49; Thomas M. Gray, 35; and Raymond E. Selah, Jr., 41, all of St. Johnsville, N.Y.; Robert Bertholde, 54, and Timothy P. Rocklin, 21, of Fort Plain, N.Y.; David W. Weber, 34, of Nelliston, N.Y.; and Stanley D. Tomkiewicz, 60, of Acushnet, Mass.
They pleaded guilty in late November to illegal possession of wildlife in Rio Blanco Court and were fined $6,000 each. They also face an administrative hearing that will determine how long the men will be barred from hunting and fishing in Colorado, and 23 other Wildlife Violator Compact member states.
The men were arrested by DOW officers after landowners near Meeker reported suspicious activity involving a black Hummer H2 with out-of-state plates. On Nov. 17, wildlife officers were contacted about a deer that had been shot illegally on private property.
The DOW contacted the men at an area ranch bunkhouse. They consented to a search. Officers found numerous animal carcasses and sets of antlers, several of which were not tagged or tagged with invalid licenses.
One of the carcasses was covered by a tarp and hay bales in a horse trailer, leading the DOW to believe it had been concealed intentionally, officers reported.
Officers also reported that some of the men gave conflicting or false accounts regarding the animals in their possession. Officers seized from the men numerous hunting items, all wildlife at the scene, and three vehicles, including the black Hummer H2.
After their guilty pleas were entered, the seized vehicles and personal items were returned to the men.