Repeat poacher gets 4 1/2 years in prison
The actions of a Grand Valley man who was sentenced Tuesday in court for illegally killing a six-point trophy elk was described as one of the most aggravated cases one veteran of the Colorado Division of Wildlife had ever seen.
Erik Ambriz, 28, who has a criminal history of poaching, was sentenced Tuesday on two felony charges and one misdemeanor charge to four and a half years in prison, the high end of a sentencing range imposed by Mesa County District Court Judge Brian Flynn.
“Of my 16 years of being an officer, this is one of the worst cases,” said a DOW officer speaking at the hearing. The officer, who worked undercover on this case, asked that his name not be used so he could continue working in that capacity.
“It takes years and years to get a trophy license,” the officer said. “He’s killed a lot of animals.
That makes it a longer wait for others to get their licenses.”
Ambriz was accused of illegally shooting one elk near Mack, but DOW officers said Ambriz may face charges of poaching three other elk and two mule deer across just across the Colorado state line in Utah.
Ambriz was sentenced Tuesday on felony counts of illegal sale of wildlife and possessing a weapon as a previous weapon offender; and on a misdemeanor count of using an artificial light while hunting.
Ambriz told undercover officers he killed an elk the night of Oct. 14 near 2 Road while his friend, Michael Gordon, 31, used a vehicle’s headlights to spot the animal, according to an arrest affidavit.
Ambriz’ actions first came to light when he met an undercover officer 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. Ambriz also told investigators of other animals he had killed and told of his plan to sell a bull elk he had recently killed to a friend for $100.
During the course of several meetings, investigators offered $200 for the antlers and an elk.
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.
Ambriz said in court Tuesday that he felt bad about his actions because losing his rights to hunting and fishing licenses means he won’t be able do those activities with his family. He turned in his seat to apologize to three DOW officers seated in the courtroom.
“I didn’t mean to mess with the herd or anything like that,” Ambriz said.
Judge Flynn said Ambriz’ actions, such as shooting across roads, hunting illegally and at nighttime, and having a history of poaching, defined the case as aggravated and warranted a stiff sentence. Flynn said Ambriz was not accepted into community corrections, a program which the defendant had failed in the past, and the judge said he wouldn’t impose probation for Ambriz.
“You’re a criminal out killing animals,” Flynn said. “You don’t respect the safety of humans ...
To call yourself a sportsman is really ridiculous.”