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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

June 19, 1998

Craig Tabor 817-334-5202
Hans Stuart 505-248-6911

 

TEXAS MAN SENTENCED FOR KILLING BIGHORN SHEEP IN COLORADO

David L. Smalley, formerly of Azle, Texas, and now residing in Creede, Colorado, was ordered to pay a fine of $2,500 and sentenced to four months in jail today for killing a bighorn sheep out of season in southern Colorado.

Smalley appeared for sentencing today in Federal Court today before U.S. District Judge Paul Brown in Sherman, Texas. Judge Brown further ordered Smalley to pay $17,500 in civil restitution to the State of Colorado and sentenced Smalley to a period of four additional months of home confinement to be monitored by electronic device followed by eight months of supervised release.

In 1995 Smalley fraudently applied for and obtained a resident Colorado bighorn sheep hunting permit. The sheep he obtained during the fall hunt was confiscated by the Colorado Division of Wildlife; an investigation revealed that Smalley had not resided in the state long enough to legally hunt with a resident hunting license. Smalley plead guilty the following year to this violation in State Court in Colorado, paid a fine, and forfeited the illegally taken bighorn ram to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Smalley admitted that after the confiscation of the bighorn ram, he felt he had been dealt with unfairly. Sometime later that same year, Smalley admitted to killing a second ram not far from his Colorado residence, outside the legal season, without the required permit, and that he later transported the hide and horns to Texas to have them made into a life-size mount.

Smalley signed an agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of transporting wildlife -- a bighorn sheep -- from Colorado to Texas in violation of the Lacey Act, a federal statute that prohibits interstate transportation of wildlife taken, possessed, purchased, or sold in violation of the laws of any state. The statute gives Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authority to investigate violators of wildlife laws when they have left the jurisdiction of the state where the offense(s) occurred.

 The case was prosecuted by United States Attorney Mike Bradford and Assistant U.S. Attorney Clifford Stricklin. Involved in the investigation were Special Agents of the Fish and Wildlife Service and Game Wardens from the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Non-resident hunting licenses typically cost more than resident licenses, and hunters must meet certain requirements to qualify to hunt with a resident license. Fraudulent license or permit applications made by hunters wishing to avoid the higher cost of non-resident licenses, or to increase their odds of drawing a permit, are an increasingly common violation encountered by wildlife law enforcement officials. Only six bighorn sheep permits were available in 1995 in the sheep unit for which Smalley applied as a resident, and only one of these permits was available to a non-resident.

The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is the state mammal of Colorado. Although the species is a game animal and a limited number of hunting permits for them are issued each year, the bighorn occupies only a fraction of its former range. Bighorns typically inhabit very high, remote terrain, and are not often seen by casual observers. Due to their relative scarcity, the quality experience of a difficult big game hunt in rough country, and to the high number of sportsmen seeking an opportunity to hunt them, their replacement value is very high. A few of the available bighorn permits in Colorado are sold at auction each year. Over the last eight years, the sale price of these permits has averaged approximately $50,000. Most of the proceeds from these sales are directed toward bighorn sheep management programs.


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