A poaching case dating back at least two and a half years was concluded June 30 in Moffat County District Court.
Two remaining suspects charged in a local case against six Arkansas men arrested Nov. 3, 2007 were sentenced.
The convictions were the result of a Colorado Division of Wildlife investigation that began in 2005.
William Newton, 25, of Hampton, Ark., pleaded guilty to illegal take of three or more big game animals, a misdemeanor; two counts of waste of edible game, a misdemeanor; illegal possession of deer, a misdemeanor; and four counts of hunting without a license, a misdemeanor.
He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $9,500 fine plus court costs. The court also ordered the forfeiture of his rifle and all illegally taken wildlife.
Newton will await an additional administrative hearing with the Colorado Wildlife Commission to determine any suspension of hunting rights in Colorado and 27 other states that are members of the Wildlife Violator Compact.
Bradley Shankles, 25, also of Hampton, Ark., pleaded guilty to willful destruction of big game, a class 5 felony; two counts of hunting without a license, a misdemeanor; two counts of illegal possession of deer, a misdemeanor; waste of edible game, a misdemeanor; and defacing a firearm, a misdemeanor.
Shankles was given a deferred sentence on his felony willful destruction charge and issued a $5,000 fine, a four-year ban from hunting in the United States, four years of supervised probation and a $2,000 donation to Operation Game Thief.
The courts also ordered the forfeiture of his rifle and all illegally taken wildlife.
Shankles also awaits a Wildlife Commission hearing.
The other four men arrested in the case, all from Arkansas, chose not to contest their charges and paid fines earlier in the year.
Richard Carson, 44, Harlan Welch, 32, Michael Welch, 24, and Anthony Moser, 21, paid a combined $5,671 in fines.
Carson was issued a five-year hunting right suspension in all 28 Wildlife Compact states, and Moser and Michael Welch were each given two-year suspensions.
Newton and Shankles were the only two suspects initially charged with felony crimes and were taken into custody at the Moffat County Jail, where both posted bail.
Newton was not convicted of any felonies through a plea agreement.
The DOW investigation began in 2005 when Wildlife Officer Mike Bauman heard stories about a group of Arkansas hunters poaching in the Bible Back Mountain area, northwest of Craig and south of the Wyoming border.
In 2006, Bauman determined the hunters were buying hunting licenses for game management units other than the ones they hunted in, a DOW news release states.
The next year, Bauman and other wildlife officers set up a hunting camp near Bible Back Mountain and posed as hunters to gather evidence. They documented most of the evidence used against the Arkansas men during this trip.
Charges against Newton, Carson and Moser included offenses that occurred in 2006.
"It was blatant poaching," Bauman said. "At one point, individuals in the Arkansas camp were seen shooting and killing a deer, then tying the head to a tree so they could later return and claim the antlers. The incident occurred on private land the men had no permission to enter and in a unit for which they didn't have a license."
The DOW is committed to catching and charging poachers, the release states.
"We welcome those who come here to experience what our great state offers," Ron Velarde, DOW Northwest Regional Manager, said, "but we absolutely will do everything possible to catch those who believe that our remote areas provide enough cover to cheat and steal from Colorado's citizens and true sportsmen."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org