DURANGO – Robert C. Peck, 66, the owner of Antler Meadows Outfitters in Ignacio, has been convicted of numerous wildlife law violations by Colorado's 6th Judicial District Court in Durango.
The conviction was the result of an investigation led by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The agency also had assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
Peck agreed to a plea deal in late October; the terms of the conviction became effective on Nov. 20.
"His actions have had a major negative impact on buck deer populations in La Plata County for many years," said Cary Carron, a district wildlife manager in Bayfield. "He displayed a blatant disregard for wildlife and the people in this area. Poaching is basically stealing wildlife from the public."
Colorado Parks and Wildlife presented the case to the La Plata County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. The District Attorney’s Office initially charged Peck with 14 counts, including six felonies that could have resulted in more than $600,000 in fines and 18 years in jail.
In the agreement, Peck pleaded guilty to seven misdemeanors: three counts of hunting without a proper and valid license, three counts of illegal possession of wildlife and one count of illegal transfer of a license. He was sentenced to five years of supervised probation with numerous conditions. According to some of the probation conditions, Peck: is prohibited from hunting anywhere in the United States; cannot participate in any hunting-related activities, including guiding hunters, leasing land for hunting, brokering licenses or participating in any commercial hunting activities; is prohibited from owning or handling firearms; cannot possess any body parts of any wildlife species. A one-year prison term was suspended, but it could be enforced if he violates any terms of probation. In addition, Peck must pay about $8,000 in fines and associated costs for the wildlife violations and make a $10,000 donation to Operation Game Thief.
"While penalties could have been more severe, the most important aspect of this conviction is that this outfitter will no longer be participating in hunting, outfitting or wildlife-related activities," said Stephanie Schuler, a district wildlife officer who also works out of Bayfield."The La Plata District Attorney's Office did a great job on this case and worked with us to achieve this plea."
Tips from the public were important in this investigation.
"Getting help from hunters, clients of outfitters and the general public is often crucial in pursuing many wildlife cases," Schuler said. "If anyone has concerns about potential illegal activity regarding wildlife, please, call us."
If you suspect that a wildlife crime is being committed, contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operation Game Thief is a nonprofit wildlife crime-stoppers organization that provides the public the opportunity to report information of illegal activities that violate wildlife laws. Callers contacting the tip line can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if the information leads to a citation.