Three Michigan men who poached elk, bear and bobcats in Colorado have been convicted and sentenced for their crimes after a long-running investigation by wildlife officials in both states. In all, the investigation implicated eight men, including several from Colorado, who were engaged in systematic violations of game laws during illegal hunts that took place in the King Mountain area of southern Routt County in Colorado.
Ole Thorson, 35, of Prescott Mich., entered his guilty plea on March 28, bringing the two-and-a-half year joint investigation and prosecution to an end. His brother, Travis Thorson, 40, and their father, 64-year-old Jerome Thorson, all from Prescott, had previously pleaded guilty.
Wildlife officials say the multi-state investigation began when a concerned hunter called to report the three men who were believed to be hunting in Colorado without licenses.
“We are grateful to the individual who called us and reported the suspicious activity,” said Ron Velarde, regional manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the Northwest Region. “Our officers are dedicated and work hard to bring offenders to justice, but investigations like this are often solved quicker when the public provides information.”
Several other individuals also pleaded guilty for their roles in the case. Tim Oestmann, 49 and Andrew Oestmann, 24 of Bailey, Colo. pleaded guilty to the illegal transfer of a hunting license. Jeffrey Kuhn, 63, of Prescott, Mich. pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a bull elk as did Todd Osier, 42, of Sterling, Mich. Troy Allen, 41 of Jamestown, Indiana also pleaded guilty to transfer of a license.
Wildlife investigators from Colorado and Michigan worked undercover for over a year, making numerous contacts with the Thorsons in both states.
The investigation revealed several violations in Colorado that spanned a 4-year period, including the illegal take of at least three bull elk, one black bear and a bobcat. Search warrants were served in three locations in Prescott and in the hunting camp belonging to the men, located south of Yampa, Colo. in Sept. 2011.
“Each of these crimes represents a lost opportunity for responsible hunters and a theft from all who enjoy Colorado’s wildlife,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigator Bob Thompson. “We appreciate all of the hard work that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has put into assisting Colorado in investigating this case as well as the commitment of the office of the district attorney in Routt County in ensuring that the men were all held accountable for their actions.” More....