Hunters don’t cage and maim animals
Each year, thousands of Coloradans and out-of-state visitors take to the backcountry of this state in search of large game animals. Working on their own or with responsible outfitters, they often spend hours or even days tracking animals and patiently waiting for the best possible shot to kill them quickly and prevent unnecessary suffering.
They don’t ignore federal and state laws to get the animals. And they most definitely do not intentionally injure or maim animals to make it easier for someone to find and kill them.
People who engage in such activities, as a Mack-area outfitter and his assistants are accused of doing, are not hunters. They are something else entirely — abominations and insults to those who responsibly follow hunting regulations and who treat wildlife with respect, even during a hunt.
As The Daily Sentinel’s Paul Shockley reported Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s office has filed a variety of charges against outfitter Christopher Loncarich of Mack and his associate, Nicholaus Rodgers, of Medford, Ore., including violations of the federal Lacey Act.
The act prohibits importing, exporting, selling, buying or transporting wildlife that is taken in violation of federal, state or foreign laws.
Federal authorities allege the two men and others engaged in illegal hunts of mountain lions and bobcats near the Colorado-Utah border over a period of several years and falsified records of where animals were killed or transported. Many of their paying customers did not have proper licenses for their hunts.
Most appalling for responsible hunters and anyone who respects wildlife is the allegation that Loncarich and his assistants would trap the cats in cages prior to the hunts, then release them when their paying customers were nearby. Sometimes, the outfitters would shoot the animals in the paw or leg, or attach leg-hold traps — which are banned in Colorado — to make it easier for the customers to find and kill the animals.
Clearly, if the allegations are accurate, Loncarich, Rodgers and their assistants care little about wildlife or the sport of hunting. Their only motivation, it seems from the allegations, was to make as much money as possible from wildlife that belongs to all of us in Colorado and Utah. We hope their prosecution is swift and, if found guilty, their punishment severe.
But what of the people who contracted with them to kill large cats? Do they derive any satisfaction from killing animals that have been captured and caged before they arrived on the scene? When they show off those mountain-lion hides to their buddies in their man caves back home, do they tell them about the steel trap that maimed the animal’s leg or the wounded paw that made it possible for them to make an easy kill?
Do they call themselves hunters? Nobody else will.