Man accused of illegal lion hunts

Feds say guide trapped big cats, offered them as game for clients

Federal authorities allege a local man conspired to illegally hunt mountain lions in western Colorado and Utah for high-paying clients.

Marvin T. Ellis, of Grand Junction, was arraigned Tuesday at the Wayne N. Aspinall federal building on one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. The law prohibits moving big game across state lines when a violation of law has occurred in the originating state where a kill occurs.

An indictment alleges that between December 2007 and March 2010, Ellis was a hunting guide for a licensed outfitter in Mack who employed four others aside from Ellis. The outfitter and other guides are not identified in the court documents.

Paid “several hundred to several thousands of dollars” by clients nationwide, Ellis and his fellow guides allegedly trapped mountain lions or bobcats days before the clients arrived, while fixing “leg-hold” traps on animals’ legs to hinder their movement, according to the indictment. As a result, clients had an easier hunt.

Ellis and other guides on one occasion allegedly shot a lion in its leg, before it was hunted down by a client the next day, according to the indictment. 

On three occasions, paying clients from Connecticut to Missouri hunted mountain lions that had been caught, caged and released by Ellis and his colleagues, the indictment alleges.

In four cases, hunters allegedly didn’t have required licenses.

Attempts to reach Ellis’ attorney, Ed Nugent, were unsuccessful Friday.

Filings in Ellis’ case suggest it may be over about as quickly as it started. Nugent on Thursday filed a notice of disposition in the case, suggesting a plea agreement has been reached.

A return date in the case has yet to be scheduled.


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