Montrose Man Fined $7,000 for Poaching

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A 19-year-old Montrose man, convicted recently of illegal possession of wildlife, must pay nearly $7,000 in fines and could be barred from hunting and fishing in Colorado and 19 other states for the rest of his life.

After a seven-month investigation by officers from the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) in Montrose, Jason R. Duggan of Montrose was charged with numerous wildlife violations in October 2004. He reached a plea agreement on May 11 in Colorado’s 7th Judicial District court in Montrose.

Duggan also was required to forfeit the hunting rifle he used to kill the deer and could face a year in jail if he does not pay the fine.

Judge John Joseph Mitchel told the court that the sentence he imposed will send a clear message to others that the illegal killing of wildlife will not be tolerated in Colorado. DOW officials said they are pleased at the stiff penalties imposed by Mitchel.

Duggan must pay a total of $6,798 in installments of $309 per month. The fine must be paid off by October 2007. If he misses monthly payments he could be arrested and sent to jail.

Duggan also faces a special hearing with the DOW to determine how long his hunting and fishing privileges will be suspended. There is a strong possibility that he will never hunt or fish in Colorado again. In addition, any suspension will automatically be applied in the 19 other states that participate in a special wildlife-crimes compact with Colorado.

The investigation started in April 2004 when DOW officers received a tip from the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office. At Duggan’s home, wildlife officers found remains of a bobcat, a mink and numerous deer racks. One of the racks was mounted on a wooden plaque with a brass plate with the inscription: “J.D. 2004.”

When questioned about the animal remains Duggan was elusive. Duggan agreed to talk to investigators the next day, but he failed to appear for the interview. On further investigation, officers learned he might have been involved in the illegal killing of other big game, small game and fur-bearing animals.

DOW officers were unable to locate Duggan again until October 2004 when they received a report of rotting ducks in an abandoned vehicle near the Montrose County Justice Center. The officers determined that the vehicle belonged to Duggan and then learned quickly that he was in the local jail serving a sentence for non-wildlife related charges.

When DOW officers interviewed him in jail, Duggan said he had lied to them in April. He said that he had killed eight buck deer within the past two years, and he admitted to small game violations, including the use of leghold traps.

Duggan was then cited for illegally killing eight deer, waste of nine ducks, and several small-game and licensing violations. In an agreement with the court he pled guilty to killing three deer.

Poaching is a major problem throughout Colorado. People who have information about wildlife are asked to call Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be given anonymously and rewards are offered.