Officials investigating poachers in Colorado have finally concluded the case in a win for both wildlife and legal hunters.
Two individuals from Kansas, William Hessman, 55, and his brother Torry Hessman, 47, have plead guilty to several wildlife charges after a lengthy investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials that turned up, among other things, several bait sites for both big game and other species in Teller County just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hunting over bait is illegal in Colorado and wildlife taken over bait is considered poached in all cases.
This case is a prime example of how individuals can play a huge role in curtailing illegal activity. Back in 2011, Teller County District Wildlife Manager Tonya Sharp received some information about a possible bait site near the Pike National Forest. After a check of William Hessman’s property revealed the presence of hay, a mineral block and a stock tank, authorities began to build their case against these poachers in Colorado.
According to Sharp, “If it wasn’t for this person’s tip we may never have discovered that this was going on. We have a lot of ground to cover so it’s always helpful to have another set of eyes out there.”
Almost a year later, another tip came in that resulted in finding another bait site. At that point, wildlife officers from both Colorado and Kansas got serious about the case and conducted surveillance over the next three years that revealed a total of six different bait sites.
Eventually, officers obtained a search warrant for William Hessman’s property that ultimately revealed more evidence as well as establishing several new charges. Ultimately, both plead to numerous charges including illegal possession of big game animals, unlawful possession of wildlife, unlawful use of bait, unlawful hunting without the proper license and unlawfully operating a motor vehicle on federal lands.
William Hessman faced more charges than his brother Torry and received the toughest consequences which included fines and court costs totaling $11,731.50. He also forfeited several items to CPW including his ATV, trail cameras, treestands and compound bow. See pictures here.
The strongest deterrent was having his hunting privileges suspended for life.
His brother Torry was fined $1,623.50 and given 25 points which could suspend his hunting privileges for up to five years for pleading guilty to possession of a big game animal and unlawfully operating a motor vehicle on federal lands.
According to District Wildlife Manager Steve Cooley;
Colorado’s wildlife is a precious resource and we take protecting it very seriously. If you cut corners and disobey the law you run the risk of never being able to hunt in Colorado or 43 other states again.
Hopefully other poachers in Colorado or potential poachers who consider breaking the law take notice and decide that the cost is not worth it.
Anyone who has information on wildlife violations in Colorado should contact Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648, (877-COLO-OGT). Callers may remain anonymous and cash rewards may be offered for information that leads to a citation or arrest. Tips and information may also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.