Two suspected of poaching 6-point elk
Two Grand Junction men face multiple charges on suspicion they poached two mule deer and one six-point trophy bull elk in areas near Mack and in Utah.
On Oct. 14, Erik Ambriz, 28, illegally shot two deer in Utah, and later that night killed a six-point bull elk near 2 Road, while his friend, Michael R. Gordon, 31, used a vehicle’s headlights to spot the animal, according to an arrest affidavit.
Ambriz and Gordon told undercover investigators they initially planned to take the animals’ heads only, in an effort to keep a lower profile and not to arouse the suspicion of authorities, because they knew they didn’t have licenses.
Each faces three felony counts of unlawfully conspiring to sell and offering to sell wildlife. They each face charges of unlawfully taking wildlife by using an artificial light, taking wildlife without a license and unlawfully possessing trophy wildlife. If convicted on the last charge, otherwise known as Samson’s Law, each man will pay a mandatory fine of $10,000.
The men may face additional charges from Utah authorities.
According to the affidavit, an undercover officer first met Ambriz the night of Oct. 7 while he worked security at Whiskey River nightclub, 490 28 1/4 Road, and the two struck up a conversation about hunting.
Ambriz told the investigator he had recently shot a seven-point bull elk during archery season on his father’s property near Crawford, and he offered the investigator his cell phone number if he wanted to hunt there, the affidavit said.
At about 1 a.m. Oct. 15, two investigators watched a vehicle at 2 Road head south to Mack and saw a bull elk head and the antlers of two mule deer in the bed of the gray Ford truck that was registered to DUHN Oil Tool Inc., the affidavit said.
Investigators followed the vehicle to a home in the Redlands that belonged to Gordon and inquired about buying the antlers and elk.
The men told investigators they killed the mule deer in Utah earlier that day and shot the elk when they went back to retrieve a cell phone that had been left behind.
“Gordon shined the bull with spotlight and Ambriz shot the bull one time with a 0.30-60 rifle,” the affidavit said. “Ambriz stated that after he killed the bull, Gordon said to just take the horns. Ambriz said that he couldn’t do that with elk so they loaded the entire bull.”
Investigators offered $200 for the antlers and the elk and told the men they would return the next day with payment.
Ambriz told investigators he had killed another bull elk in Utah on Oct. 14 that he was going to sell to a friend for $100.
A friend of Ambriz told investigators he had received a cow elk from Ambriz the night before but had not paid for it and “got worried because he knew it was illegal and dumped the cow elk into the Colorado River near Fruita,” the affidavit said.
Ambriz had one big-game license for bull elk that he purchased Oct. 13 for 2008, but it wasn’t valid until the second rifle season, starting Oct. 18.
In 1998, Ambriz pleaded guilty to hunting without a license and illegally killing a six-point deer.
Gordon did not have a hunting license because he is under suspension for not paying child support, the affidavit said.
Ambriz was in Mesa County Jail on separate charges when the poaching charges surfaced. Gordon was out of custody Friday on a $7,500 bond when he was advised of his charges.