Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is investigating the illegal poaching of a desert bighorn ram off Highway 141 between Gateway and Grand Junction near the Gunnison River. Wildlife officers responded when a rock climber spotted the ram and found a mature desert bighorn. A rifle bullet was recovered from behind the front shoulder of the ram. The investigation is ongoing.
“The ram was shot and left there with nothing removed from it,” said CPW wildlife officer Kevin Duckett in their news release. “There is a desert bighorn sheep hunting season in that unit, but it does not start until Nov. 1, and this ram was killed prior to the season and left to rot.”
There are very small numbers of desert bighorns here in Colorado with their total population estimated at only 540 statewide. CPW offers extremely limited opportunities for hunting these sheep with only about a dozen tags available annually. These tags already have extraordinarily small draw odds, and poaching reduces the herd size which may result in even fewer available tags in the future.
Duckett said the ram had a ⅝ to ¾ curl of its horns. Fines could exceed $25,000 for the illegal take of a bighorn ram over half-curl. Willful destruction of a big-game animal is a felony in Colorado and can result in a lifetime suspension of hunting and fishing privileges. Convictions could result in fines and jail time, depending on the charge. Personally, I hope they throw the person that did this in jail and let ‘em rot, just like they left this ram to rot.
CPW is asking the public for any information regarding the parties responsible for the killing of this bighorn. Duckett can be reached at 970-275-3556 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Wildlife officer Stuart Sinclair may also be reached at 970-209-2370 or email@example.com. Anonymous tipsters may call or email Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a CPW program that pays rewards up to $1,000 to citizens who turn in poachers.