News from the Colorado Division of Wildlife
News from Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Contact Name: Mike Porras
Contact Phone: 970-255-6162
CALIFORNIA POACHERS CONFESS TO MULTI-STATE CRIMES
MEEKER, Colo. – After a Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigation
spanning several states and two hunting seasons, a trio of men from
California have pleaded guilty to numerous wildlife violations in
Colorado and New Mexico, dating back to 2011 through 2013. Upon being
confronted with extensive evidence of their crimes, the three men
admitted to their illegal activities and accepted a plea bargain in Rio
Blanco County Court in late February.
Throughout their crime spree, the men hunted on private property without
permission, illegally killed an elk, nine mule deer, one turkey and a
blue grouse. In several instances, the poachers only removed the head,
cape and antlers from their illegal kills, or abandoned the entire
animal leaving the meat to waste, which could have brought felony
charges and a prison sentence.
During the investigation, wildlife officials gathered a variety of
evidence including taxidermy mounts from their homes and numerous photos
of the men posing with the illegally taken wildlife.
“These individuals showed complete disregard for the wildlife laws of
several states in a brazen and arrogant manner,” said Northwest Regional
Manager Ron Velarde of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Citizens have every
reason to be outraged by their destructive behavior and we, along with
the other agencies we worked with on this case, are satisfied to see
that these individuals have been brought to justice”
Ringleader Anthony Bauer, 35, of Palm Desert, California, was convicted
of willful destruction of big game wildlife – a felony in Colorado, four
counts of hunting without a proper and valid deer license and illegal
take of a mule deer. He was ordered to pay $5,754 in fines, make a
$10,000 donation to the Meeker Sportsman’s Club [Ironically, the ringleader had to make a
$10,000 donation to the Meeker Sportsman’s Club. It’s not like he shot one of them!]
and forfeit all evidence
seized, including hunting gear and personal computers. Bauer also
pleaded guilty for the illegal take of a bull elk in New Mexico. As part
of his plea, Bauer was ordered to return the illegally taken elk mount,
a mule deer mount and a Barbary sheep mount to New Mexico.
Bauer is the owner of ‘Live2Die’, an outdoor-themed hat and clothing
company based in California. The company’s website is where
investigators discovered the incriminating photos, eventually removed
from the site under the terms of the plea bargain.
“Ironically, it was the discovery of two hats emblazoned with the
company’s logo found hidden in some brush on private property near two
poached deer that led us to these individuals,” said Area Wildlife
Manager Bill de Vergie of Meeker. “The landowner found the hats and let
District Wildlife Manager Jon Wangnild know right away. It once again
shows how important the public’s help can be in bringing violators to
De Vergie praised the work of all of the officers and investigators
involved in the case, including wildlife officers from New Mexico and
California and a forensics laboratory in Wyoming. He noted the
outstanding work of DWM Wangnild of Meeker who initiated the two-year
investigation after receiving a tip from a local outfitter.
Wangnild passed away after being injured in a horseback riding accident
in June, 2013, eight months before the case was resolved in court.
“Jon was very well respected by his fellow officers because of his
dedication and tenacity in bringing violators to justice,” added de
Vergie. “His diligence and hard work on this case, both here and in
California, is a testament to his legacy.”
Wangnild and an investigator traveled out-of-state to assist California
State Fish and Game officers search the suspects’ residences and a local
taxidermist shop where a substantial amount of evidence was seized.
Also pleading guilty in the case was Frank D’Anna, 29, of San Diego and
Hank Myll, 33, of Palm Desert. Myll pleaded guilty to hunting mule deer
without a proper and valid license and illegal take of a mule deer.
D’Anna agreed to pay a citation for hunting blue grouse without a
license, hunting mule deer without a license, illegal take of a blue
grouse, illegal take of a mule deer and hunting on private property
Several other men allegedly involved in illegal hunting with Bauer,
D’Anna and Myll and are facing possible charges in New Mexico, pending
On the Live2Die website, Bauer states that he “…built his brand on the
principles of living life to the fullest. With a goal to get more kids
off of the video games, and get them outdoors.”
“One of the most important aspects of enjoying the outdoors is being
responsible and ethical around wildlife,” continued de Vergie.
“Unfortunately, considering the extent of Mr. Bauer and his companion’s
illegal activity, this was the complete opposite of what we are trying
to teach our younger generations.”
The three men now must meet with a CPW Hearings Commissioner where they
face the possibility of permanently losing their hunting and fishing
privileges in Colorado and 41 other Interstate Wildlife Violator compact
states, including New Mexico and California.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks the public to report possible illegal
wildlife activity to their nearest CPW office or Colorado State Patrol.
To remain anonymous, call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648 . Rewards
may be available if the report leads to a citation.