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5 Colorado Poachers Sentenced After Leaving Elk to Waste

Three adult men and two juveniles pled guilty to multiple charges in the 2019 poaching case.

On November 9, 2019, an incident on Colorado’s Uncompahgre Plateau left two elk to waste, with another elk found in illegal possession.

A group of hunters witnessed a separate group shooting into a herd of elk, killing three, and leaving two behind to rot. The witnesses then called the authorities.

Wildlife Officers Find 2 Elk Wasted, 1 Illegally in Possession

Upon arrival, wildlife officers found a spike bull hidden in nearby bushes as well as another elk, both dead from gunshot wounds. Thanks to witness descriptions, they were quick to find the accused in a nearby hunting camp, where they seized evidence for examination.

Only two individuals in the hunting party held elk licenses, and one other had filled their license the day prior. Post-examination, ballistics information determined that three elk were shot by people who didn’t have the right to shoot or possess the animals.

Colorado is a single-license state. And although two people did hold legal elk licenses, it is illegal to fill any license via what is known as “party hunting.” For clarity, only the hunter in possession of a specific license can legally kill an animal. In this case, all five people shot into the elk herd. This means each person was liable for illegal activity.

Charges and Fines for 5 Individuals in Guilty Pleas

Floyd Kendall, age 68, of Grand Junction pled guilty to willful destruction of big game and waste of wildlife. He faces $3,914.35 in fines and court costs, plus a $1,000 donation to Operation Game Thief (OGT).

Steven Creech, age 36, of Grand Junction pled guilty to willful destruction of big game and hunting without a license. He must pay $5,640.50, plus a $1,000 donation to OGT.

Joseph Kendall, age 37, of Grand Junction is charged with hunting without a license, facing $371.50 in fines and court costs.

One juvenile pled guilty to Illegal possession of wildlife and shooting from a public road, with $205.42 in fines and court costs. And the second juvenile pled guilty to waste of wildlife and shooting from a public road, with $598 in fines and a $500 donation to OGT.

Colorado Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commends Witnesses

Hunting tourism rivals skiing tourism, especially on Colorado’s Western Slope. A 2008 study showed that Colorado’s hunting and angling opportunities infused $1.8 billion into local economies. And eyewitnesses like the ones who turned in the five poachers are vital to keeping Colorado’s hunting and angling seasons in motion, fairly and ethically.

“This case wouldn’t have been possible without the information that was provided by the witnesses,” said Kevin Duckett, district wildlife manager for the western portion of the Uncompahgre Plateau.

“There are millions of acres of public hunting lands in Colorado, so we count on people to help be our eyes in the field. With more than 500,000 legal and ethical hunters in the field each year, we’ve got a great team out there that can help make sure that everyone is following the rules.”

Nicole Qualtieri
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Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.