Eight men convicted of illegal hunts in Routt County
Eight men from three states face hefty fines and/or jail time after being convicted of illegal hunting activity in the King Mountain area of southern Routt County.
A joint four-year investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources resulted in Ole Thorson, 35, his brother, Travis Thorson, 40, and their father, Jerome Thorson, 64, all of Prescott, Mich., pleading guilty to numerous wildlife violations in Colorado and Michigan, authorities announced this week.
Also, Tim Oestmann, 49, and Andrew Oestmann, 24, both of Bailey, pleaded guilty to the illegal transfer of a hunting license.
Jeffrey Kuhn, 63, of Prescott, Mich., and Todd Osier, 42, of Sterling, Mich., pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a bull elk. Troy Allen, 41, of Jamestown, Ind., also pleaded guilty to transfer of a license.
Ole Thorson was charged with numerous violations, including felony willful destruction, tampering with a witness and forgery, four counts of hunting without a license and four counts of illegal possession of wildlife resulting from the illegal take of three elk and one bear.
The three elk qualified for so-called “Samson” surcharges — an additional fine for the illegal take of trophy-quality big game.
Thorson pleaded guilty to unlawful transfer of a hunting license, illegal possession of a 6-point bull elk and misdemeanor theft. His guilty plea included $11,200 in fines and a $2,500 contribution to Operation Game Thief.
Additionally, Thorson received a one-year jail sentence with all but 30 days suspended pending the successful completion of five years probation.
Also, he is prohibited from entering Colorado during the five years of probation.
Jerome Thorson pleaded guilty to hunting without a valid license and three counts of illegal possession of elk and was sentenced to two years probation.
Travis Thorson pleaded guilty to hunting without a valid license, illegal possession of a six-point bull elk and misdemeanor and felony counts of menacing, the latter of which stemmed from an altercation with undercover wildlife officers during the investigation. According to an arrest affidavit, he threatened undercover officers with a knife and an air rifle.
Wildlife investigators from Colorado and Michigan worked undercover for more than a year, making numerous contacts with the Thorsons in both states.
Travis Thorson will serve two years probation and pay more than $14,000 in fines and costs.
The defendants also faced numerous, separate charges in Michigan.
The three Thorsons also face long-term loss of their hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado, Michigan and the other 37 states belonging to the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
The four-year investigation began after a concerned hunter reported 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 co-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.”
Bob Thompson, lead wildlife investigator for CPW, also credited the work of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as well as the commitment of the Routt County district.