Three energy companies are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible for the poaching of a bighorn sheep ram north of De Beque.
On Friday, Oct. 30, investigators with the Colorado Division of Wildlife were notified that a quarter-curl bighorn ram had been poached on private land. Information from people in the area and evidence collected at the scene indicate that the bighorn sheep ram was likely shot between Sunday, Oct. 25 and Tuesday, Oct. 27 by a single shot to the neck. The poacher made no attempt to salvage meat from the animal or to take the head or horns.
"This is the worst kind of poaching case," said Albert Romero, District Wildlife Manager for the De Beque district. "It appears that someone just shot and killed this animal for no reason at all."
Chevron, EnCana and Williams have committed a total of $10,000 to the Division of Wildlife reward fund for information that leads to a conviction in this case. Additionally, Operation Game Thief has offered a $1,000 reward and Colorado's TIPS program may provide tipsters with a bighorn sheep hunting license in exchange for testimony in the case.
The ram, which was part of the De Beque Canyon bighorn sheep herd, had recently wandered into the Kimball Creek area west of Roan Creek Road (Garfield County Road 204). The ram was frequently seen and photographed by area residents and energy workers who travel the road up Kimball Creek. The ram carcass was discovered on private property owned by Chevron.
Criminal charges in this case could include trespassing, illegal possession of wildlife, waste, felony willful destruction, and hunting in a closed unit. If convicted of all charges, the perpetrator in this case could face up to five years in jail and more than $100,000 in fines. Upon conviction the person would also face suspension of their hunting privileges in Colorado and 30 other states.
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are the official state animal of Colorado and they appear on the seal of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can qualify for up to $1,000 in reward funds; however tipsters must be willing to testify to qualify for energy company reward funds or TIPS licenses. Operation Game Thief is a program that works with the Division of Wildlife to provide rewards for information in poaching cases. TIPS is a DOW program that provides hunting licenses or preference points for sportsmen who provide information in poaching cases.