Feds: Mack outfitter maimed cats before hunts
Two men, including a big game outfitter from Mack, organized illegal hunts of mountain lions and bobcats over three years near the Colorado-Utah line and would maim animals to make hunts easier, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said today.
Christopher Loncarich, 55, of Mack, and Nicholaus Rodgers, 30, of Medford, Ore., were charged Tuesday in a 17-count indictment with conspiracy to violate to the Lacey Act, interstate felony transportation and sale of unlawfully taken wildlife, and felony creation of false records concerning wildlife sold in interstate commerce.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, which announced the charges today in a press release, alleged a scheme between the men between 2007 and 2010 operating in western Colorado on the Utah border. Loncarich outfits and guides hunts for mountain lions and bobcats in the Bookcliffs range.
Authorities allege Loncarich and his assistants trapped the cats in cages prior to hunts, then released them when their clients were nearby. Loncarich, Rogers and others would stay in touch via radio to ensure their clients were taken to the location of the release.
Loncarich and others would sometimes shoot cats in the paws or legs, or attach leghold traps, toward making the hunts easier, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Many of the paying hunters did not have proper licenses to hunt the animals, which were brought back to Colorado after kills. Records were allegedly falsified to Colorado wildlife authorities, which approved transporting the cats to the hunters’ home states. To date, four assistant hunting guides have pleaded guilty in the connection with the scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.