CDOW Increases Reward in "Cold Case"

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Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) investigators are still intent on finding the person or persons who stole two bighorn sheep heads from a Montrose area taxidermy business in 2000. The CDOW and other parties with an interest in the case have increased the reward from $4,000 to $5,500 for information that leads to an arrest.

Bighorn sheep horns are highly valued by big game hunters. Special licenses often sell for more than $100,000. Consequently, mounted heads can be very valuable.

“We tend to be pretty protective of Colorado’s state mammal and we are still interested in locating those sheep heads and eventually putting them on display,” said Glenn Smith, Criminal Investigator with the CDOW in Montrose. “The criminal is still out there, and we just upped the ante.”

The sheep heads were stolen between 9 p.m. May 20 and 7:15 a.m. May 21, 2000, from Southwest Taxidermy in Montrose where they were waiting to be made into life-size mounts for public display and educational purposes. One was a desert bighorn sheep confiscated from a hunter who killed the sheep outside of the unit he was licensed for. The other was a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that was found dead along Highway 550, outside of Ouray.

Rocky Mountain and desert bighorn sheep live in Colorado. The Rocky Mountain bighorn is the more common of the two in Colorado, but both big-game animals are highly prized by hunters and considered a major attraction by those who enjoy viewing wildlife in Colorado.

Hunting licenses for both species of sheep are issued by drawing only. They are very limited and very coveted. Hunters who are successful in the drawing consider themselves extremely fortunate.

The $5,500 reward money in this case was contributed by: Operation Game Thief ($2,000), the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep ($1,000), the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep society ($500), Southwest Taxidermy ($1,000) and Grand Slam Club – Ovis ($1,000).

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call Operation Game Thief, 1-877-265-6648, or #OGT on Verizon cell phones, or e-mail game.thief@state.co.us. Callers can remain anonymous.

Operation Game Thief is a CDOW program which pays rewards to citizens who turn in poachers. Since its inception in 1981, Operation Game Thief has received more than 2,400 reports of poaching, resulting in more than 700 convictions. These convictions have netted more than $600,000 in fines and resulted in the seizure or more than 1,300 illegally-taken animals.