Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Moose Poacher Who Left Meat to Rot After Trying to Remove Head Finally Sentenced

But is a $20,000 fine and 2-year probation harsh enough for this completely pointless and illegal killing?

Poachers do nothing but give hunters a bad name—but in this case, the hunting community was able to help serve justice to the besmircher.

In September 2021, Steven Samuelson, 33, of Oakley, Kansas, used his compound bow to kill a bull moose near Pike National Forest in Colorado despite not having a license to hunt big game. He then proceeded to try to remove the head from the moose, of which he was unsuccessful. After a while, he gave up this attempt and instead haphazardly covered the carcass with branches before abandoning it, leaving the meat to rot in, ultimately, a completely pointless killing.

Samuelson probably thought that was the end of it. But a privately-owned game camera captured still photos and videos that put him and the moose in the vicinity of the crime at the same time.

The owners of the camera reported what they had seen to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. CPW Officers Aaron Berscheid, Travis Sauder, and Ben Meier responded and were led to the dead moose by the person who reported it, CBS said.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

"This moose was treated unethically and that is something we take very seriously," said Sauder, who is also an assistant area wildlife manager. "We are fortunate members of the public share our passion for wildlife and helped us catch the poacher."

In mid-July, the two-year case was finally closed when Samuelson pleaded guilty in Teller County District Court to willful destruction of wildlife, a felony, as well as misdemeanor charges of hunting without a proper and valid big game license, aggravated illegal possession of wildlife, failure to prepare wildlife for human consumption, hunting in a careless manner and illegal take of wildlife, according to CPW.

Photo courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Samuelson received a two-year deferred jail sentence on the felony charge—meaning it will be waived if he meets the terms of the plea agreement—and two years of unsupervised probation.

He was fined nearly $20,000 and surrendered the bow he used to poach the moose as well as other property that contained evidence of the crime, including his cellphone. Samuelson also was assessed 65 points against his hunting license.

Moose have become an iconic part of the Colorado landscape and have flourished since being reintroduced in 1978, according to Tim Kroening, CPW area wildlife manager for the Pikes Peak region. The current moose population in the state is estimated to be near 3,000. While this creates many wonderful opportunities to view, photograph, and hunt these animals, Kroening said it has also created temptation among some to illegally poach moose.

"I want to make it clear: Mr. Samuelson was not a hunter. He is a poacher," Kroening said. "The Samuelson case, and others, show CPW is determined to stop future poachers."

READ MORE: 8 Incredibly Stupid Poachers Who Dug Their Own Graves