In Colorado, hunting and fishing violations are divided into separate categories depending on the severity of the offense. The most serious category are those offenses designated as felonies. A felony is a very serious crime, a conviction of which can lead to lifelong repercussions including your ability to hold a job, work with children in even a volunteer capacity, own a firearm, and vote. While there are numerous crimes that under Colorado criminal code are felonies, there are only two hunting and fishing specific crimes that rise to the level of felony.
33-6-117 Willful destruction of wildlife
Colorado Revised Statutes 33-6-117 prohibits hunters from killing animals for just the trophy portions of any animal. The trophy portions defined in the statute include: the head, hide, claws, teeth, antlers, horns, internal organs, or feathers. Additionally, the statute specifically includes the act of intentionally abandoning the carcass or body of taken wildlife. The felony portion of this statute applies only to big game, eagles, and endangered species, while a conviction of this offense in regard to all other wildlife is a misdemeanor.
For example, trophy hunters who shoot an elk and remove only the antlers or hide or anyone who kills an eagle in order to obtain the prized feathers may be charged under this statute as having “willfully destroyed wildlife.” This particular offense is different than those hunters who intend to use the edible portions of wildlife but simply fail to take the necessary care to do so. Hunters who, for instance, down an elk but due to negligence on their part fail to get the meat down off the mountain prior to it spoiling while still on the animal would likely be charged under the separate statute governing Wanton Waste, a misdemeanor.
33-6-113 Illegal Sale of Wildlife
C.R.S. 33-6-113 governs the illegal sale of wildlife, or the illegal profit from outfitter activities conducted in the state of Colorado. Focusing on the outfitter portion of the statute as the far more common offense charged, the outfitter requirements in Colorado are very strict and if not followed can result in felony charges. Outfitters are required under Colorado law to be licensed with the Department of Regulatory Agencies. DORA establishes several requirements including the carriage of insurance, contract and behavior guidelines. Failing to register as an outfitter when providing outfitter services fits squarely into the verbiage of the statute regulating the “sale of wildlife” in Colorado. Similar to the offenses in 33-6-117, conviction of an offense charged under 33-6-113 in relation to big game, eagles, or endangered species is a class 5 felony.
If you are accused of committing any felony in Colorado, hunting related or otherwise, it is absolutely imperative that you seek legal counsel at your first opportunity. Hunting Violation Attorney Nathaniel Gilbert handles hunting violations and fishing violations for hunters in Colorado and Kansas. Consulting with Nathaniel can help provide perspective to your situation and help to decide the best course for you and your family.