June 22, 2019 — A jury on Tuesday convicted Jon Joseph Miller of several wildlife offenses related to the illegal killing of a bear in 2017.
On Sept. 2 of that year, Miller shot a mother bear with a bow and arrow and abandoned her, leaving her two cubs to fend for themselves, according to a press release from the District Attorney’s Office announcing the verdict Friday.
The incident was reported through Operation Game Thief.
“This was an egregious poaching act and not at all representative of our hunting public,” Renzo Del Piccolo, area wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said Friday.
“I think it’s important to note that this is why we regulate hunting and why licenses are the foundation of what maintains our wildlife populations and manages our hunting so that our populations can persist. A lot of times, one illegal act can snowball into many others. It’s a good reason not to go down that road to begin with.”
Miller was convicted of felony destruction of wildlife and aggravated animal cruelty.
As well, the jury returned guilty verdicts on two misdemeanor animal cruelty counts; one count each of hunting big game without a license, illegal possession of wildlife, failure to locate wounded game and failure to dress (game).
Sentencing was set for Aug. 12 and could bring a prison term between one and four years, based on the sentencing range for the felonies; however, other sentencing provisions are possible, depending on the findings of a pre-sentence investigation. Miller is also subject to fines.
“The extensive and thorough investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers allowed the prosecution to present a case to the jury that resulted in convictions on all eight counts,” District Attorney Dan Hotsenpiller said in the news release.
He recognized CPW’s time and effort, as well as the prosecution team, particularly Deputy DA Jason Wilson and legal services assistant Dawn Schlauger.
Del Piccolo in return thanked the DA’s Office for an “outstanding” job.
Hotsenpiller and Del Piccolo also thanked the tipster who called Operation Game Thief to report the incident.
“Our law enforcement agencies rely on the public and members of our communities to report activity they believe appears to be criminal in nature,” he said.
“We appreciate the public,” Del Piccolo said.
“This information actually came from someone in his own camp. They were disgusted by this behavior. That demonstrates the good code of ethics that most hunters have in not being tolerant of this type of poaching behavior.”
Operation Game Thief is a CPW program that pays rewards, funded by private donations, to citizens who report poaching activity. People can make anonymous calls, although in this case, Miller knew the identity of those who informed authorities, Del Piccolo said.
The number is 877-265-6648; Verizon users can dial #OGT.
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