By Jesse Paul
Two brothers have pleaded guilty to several wildlife offenses in a southern Colorado poaching case after a three-year investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Officials began investigating Torry Hessman, 47, of Pagosa Springs, and William Hessman, 55, of Kansas, in August 2011 after wildlife officers found evidence the two had left bait sites in Teller County for big game and other wildlife species, CPW said Thursday.
A year later, wildlife officials were tipped off to another bait site near William Hessman's Teller County property in the Pike National Forest. Officers were able to link the two sites and start an investigation.
"Because of those two tips, wildlife officers conducted surveillance over three years, through September 2013," Colorado Parks and Wildlife said. "The investigation involved 14 Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers as well as officers with Kansas Parks and Wildlife."
Six bait sites were found on private and federal lands, officials said. A search of William Hessman's property led officials to more evidence that prompted additional charges.
William Hessman pleaded guilty to 15 counts, including illegal possession of elk, deer and bear. His hunting privileges were suspended for life.
Torry Hessman pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a cow elk and other charges and has been banned from hunting for up to five years.
State officials say hunting any wildlife using bait is illegal and that any wildlife harvested with bait is considered poaching.
"The public often hears us asking for information in poaching cases, and this just goes to show that their help really does make a difference," Tonya Sharp, Teller County district wildlife manager, said in a statement.