Mack outfitter pleads not guilty to maiming wildlife
Feds accuse him of wounding cats to make hunts easier
A local outfitter accused of illegally hunting and maiming mountain lions and bobcats before letting clients shoot them pleaded not guilty in federal court in Grand Junction on Tuesday.
Christopher Loncarich, 55, a big game outfitter from Mack, entered the plea to the 17-count complaint, which includes felony charges for violations of the Lacey Act, a law which protects big game animals from poachers.
Nicholaus Rodgers, 30, of Medford, Ore., also has been cited in the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Loncarich and Rodgers devised a scheme between 2007 and 2010 in western Colorado and on the Utah border to trap cats in cages and release them when clients were nearby. Loncarich, and others, would sometimes first shoot the animals in the paws or legs, or attach legholds to the animals to make the hunts easier, attorneys charged.
Additionally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, many of the clients did not have licenses to kill the animals and the duo falsified information to Colorado wildlife authorities.