Wildlife investigation in Routt County produces additional charges

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— The Routt County District Attorney’s Office has filed a combined 32 misdemeanor charges and six felony charges against four Michigan men as a result of a joint investigation by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In February, six misdemeanors and three felony charges were filed against Travis Thorson, 41. He is accused of threatening undercover wildlife officers with an air rifle, threatening to scalp one of them with a knife and committing five misdemeanors related to wildlife crimes in southern Routt County during a period of several years. His case has been set for a four-day jury trial starting July 31. In Michigan, he was charged with a single count of cruelty to animals.

At the time, officials said charges were anticipated for Thorson’s brother Ole Thorson, 35; his father, Jerome Thorson, 64; and a man named Todd Osier, 41.

Ole Thorson was advised of his charges Tuesday in Routt County Court. He faces 17 misdemeanors and three felonies. According to the charges, Ole Thorson illegally hunted bear, bobcat and elk in Routt County throughout a three-year period.

The felony charges are willful destruction of wildlife, forgery related to wildlife documents and tampering with a witness or victim. That charge states that between Jan. 14 and April 4, he tried to get a victim or witness to “testify falsely or unlawfully withhold any testimony.”

Ole Thorson is due back in court June 13. He was charged in Michigan with importing elk illegally taken in another state and possession of an illegally taken pine marten.

There have been eight misdemeanors filed against Jerome Thorson, who is accused of committing wildlife crimes in 2008 and 2011. He next is due in court May 30. In Michigan, he faces an additional 23 charges.

A single misdemeanor illegal possession of wildlife charge has been filed against Osier. He also is due back in court May 30. In Michigan, he was charged with a single count of cruelty to animals.

An arrest warrant affidavit filed in Routt County Court outlines the accusations related to the felony menacing charges against Travis Thorson. It states two wildlife officers were undercover when they camped near Thorson’s group for five days in the King Mountain area on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

According to the affidavit, on Aug. 29, one of the officers was visiting Thorson’s tent after Thorson had been drinking alcohol for several hours. Thorson waved around a 4.5-inch knife and told the wildlife officer he was going to scalp him and the other undercover officer, the affidavit states. About 10 minutes later, Thorson pointed an air rifle at an officer after saying he was going to shoot the officer in the groin, the affidavit states. Thorson pointed the air rifle at the other officer, as well, and then fired it twice at a log, the affidavit states.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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