A Colorado big game outfitter and his assistant guide have been charged with illegally capturing and maiming wild cats to make them easier to kill.
UPDATE: Assistant guide Nicholaus Rodgers, of Medford, Oregon, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits the transport and sale of illegally taken game and fish.
Rodger’s employer, Christopher Loncarich, of Mack, Colorado, is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 15.
Last January, Loncarich and Rodgers were indicted on a number of charges that include unlawfully taking wildlife, creating false records, and felony transportation.
The charges were based on activity between 2007 and 2010, when Loncarich and Rodgers operated big game hunting trips in the Book Cliffs mountain range along the Utah-Colorado border.
Federal authorities said the men captured mountain lions and bobcats using cages prior to taking their clients into the field. The men allegedly shot and maimed the cats’ paws and legs, and used leg-hold traps to slow them down when they released them for clients to hunt.
Loncarich and Rodgers transported the dead cats from Utah into Colorado. They falsified the animals’ records to obtain Colorado state-inspection seals in order to legally sell cats’ hides.
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The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service of Law Enforcement, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Utah Division of Wildlife Resources were the lead investigators. The Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division is prosecuting the case.