DOW: Ranchers illegally killed elk

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— The 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Craig filed misdemeanor and felony charges against two Moffat County ranchers Tuesday after a Colorado Division of Wildlife investigation.

Rodney Culverwell, part owner of Rio Ro Mo Cattle Company, located about 15 miles west of Craig, is charged with 18 counts of willful destruction of big game - a class 5 felony, and 18 counts of illegal possession of wildlife - a misdemeanor.

Kenneth Wolgram, who owns property on Moffat County Road 17 west of Craig, is charged with 16 counts of willful destruction of big game and 16 counts of illegal possession of wildlife.

The District Attorney's Office does not plan to ask for an arrest warrant in either case, Deputy District Attorney Jeremy Snow said.

According to search warrant affidavits filed with Moffat County District Court, DOW officials observed both suspects throughout a period of time.

DOW wildlife officers began investigating dead elk on Culverwell's property Jan. 28 after receiving reports of carcasses visible from U.S. Highway 40. The investigation continued until DOW officials served a search warrant Feb. 22.

According to the affidavit, DOW officials located dead elk on Culverwell's property on different days and found a store of carcasses in a hay barn there, as well.

Also reported in the affidavit, a DOW wildlife officer received an e-mail from Culverwell on June 12, 2007, asking for permission to kill wildlife eating his cattle feed and damaging his property.

"If I have not heard from you within two weeks, I will assume that you do not care and these matters must be taken care of by other means," the affidavit states Culverwell wrote in his e-mail.

Evidence reported in the subsequent evidence log lists 21 cow, calf and bull elks along with bullets reportedly taken from the carcasses and matching ammo casings found in a pickup truck registered to Rio Ro Mo Cattle Company, Culverwell's business.

DOW officials began investigating Wolgram on Feb. 18, after reportedly finding four elk carcasses on the side of County Road 17, according to a search warrant affidavit also dated Feb. 22.

The carcasses were located approximately two miles north of Highway 40, near Wolgram's property.

The affidavit states officials found evidence some of the animals were shot with a shotgun.

Upon entering Wolgram's property the next day, the affidavit reports officials spotted a dead cow elk near a haystack.

Wildlife Officer Garett Watson approached Wolgram and asked if he had dumped the elk on Highway 40, to which Wolgram answered yes, the affidavit states. Wolgram denied shooting the elk and told Watson he did not own a shotgun.

According to the affidavit, officers later found evidence of spent 12-gauge shotgun shells and .22 caliber ammunition casings on Wolgram's property.

According to evidence logs reported by DOW officials, the Feb. 22 warranted search on Wolgram's property yielded 13 elk carcasses along with two whole coyotes, 63 packages of non-commercially processed meat, antlers, cutting utensils, a 12-gauge shotgun, a .22 caliber pistol, a .22 caliber rifle and ammunition.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

Comments

424now 6 years, 3 months ago

It could also bring to light the DOW's unresponsiveness toward ranchers reporting wildlife issues impacting their businesses.

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1234 6 years, 3 months ago

sbvor, you are on the right track. it will be interesting to see how this goes. as far as the DOW they are way off base on some of the issues they have. the DOW should have done things a little different, with the way this year went.

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1234 6 years, 3 months ago

424now, yes you also have good in put. we need to see where this is going. when we do i have a lot more to say.

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another_local 6 years, 3 months ago

What happened to the principle of "fencing out"? Fence that haystack.

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nikobesti 6 years, 3 months ago

DOW should have done what differently? Feed the elk in a NORMAL winter? What kind of precedent would that set? This is nature, folks. Wildlife is a part of doing business in Moffat County. It doesn't give you the right to shoot anything that is giving you problems. What about some personal responsibility instead of blaming animals or an agency? Shoot, DOW will even assist you with free fencing supplies.

This case is not complicated. They are not above the law and there is no private property issue. So I guess I can shoot those deer that are grazing in my garden, hu?

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steamboatsconscience 6 years, 3 months ago

does this mean I can shoot my neighbor's cows that are breaking down my fence and eating my hay because he is too cheap to feed them properly?

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 3 months ago

I have a friend from Maybell that spent a fortune to stay out of jail for a kill, outfitting with a expired license, it was a nightmare, DOW is not to mess with....................

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1234 6 years, 3 months ago

nikobesti, normal winter compared to what?

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