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Trophy Wyoming Elk Poached

Photo taken by Mike Eastman


On January 10th, 2019 Christian J. Cosby of Rock Springs, Wyoming was convicted of the illegal taking of a bull elk from Wyoming elk hunt area 30. Cosby’s elk license for the year of the violation, 2017, was valid for area 93. Cosby claimed to have taken the bull in area 93 with archery equipment, he also entered the elk in a local contest where it was recognized by several photographs as a bull that had lived in area 30 far to the South of area 93. This is where the situation began to unravel for Cosby as Wyoming Game & Fish Warden Andy Roosa and Wildlife Investigator Jim Gregory began an investigation into the details surrounding Cosby’s claims.

Cosby initially claimed that he took the bull in area 93 on September 27th but the investigation revealed that his whereabouts put him in area 30 on that date. As the evidence mounted it was discovered that Cosby had also taken a mountain lion with an illegal caliber rifle as well. Ultimately, he plead guilty to all charges and was sentenced to upward of $5000 in fines and  suspension of hunting license privileges for two years. The elk antlers and the bow and arrows used to take the animal were also confiscated.

But now for the real question… does the punishment fit the crime? Let us know what you think.

For complete and detailed information on all Wyoming elk areas and draw information see Guy Eastman’s breakdown in the Wyoming MRS available to Eastmans’ subscribers both in print and digital versions.

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  1. Once a poacher always a poacher! Taking away his hunting privileges for two years most likely won’t deter him from going into the field after our game. Jail time is a more definitive punishment just in my opinion. Time alone like that gives you lots of time to think. Maybe it would help him turn the corner.

    • Nathan MacDonald

      His fine should be bigger. He should have to pay a much bigger fine. 100,000 dollars at least. He should have to go back to hunters safety class, he should do jail time, and be on parole for five years. No, his punishment is too light. He stole from everyone in Wyoming

    • As a nonresident, it cost me much more to hunt than the fine given to the poacher and typically a lot longer to draw a tag than the two years of suspension. So, I would say he got a deal…no the sentence and fine is way to lenient in my opinion.

      • Total agreement, I too am an out of state hunter. It would cost me more than the perps fine to hunt in Wyoming. Still am not happy with the way “our” natural resources are determined. That is the difference between resident and non-resident prices. Why not just set cost of a tag the same for everyone? After all isn’t this the land of the free and home of the brave? Equal under the law? I think Not-

        • Dave, what you say has some merit. I have always advocated that prices for hunting on public land should be the same for residents and non residents. Unfortunately in just about all instances the wildlife resources in a particular at owned by the people of that state and they control the license pricing.

    • 5 yr jail time. No more hunting. Ever.
      Make him an example.

  2. NO!!! Punishment definitely does not fit the crime, he should loose hunting privileges indefinitely!!

  3. no hunting privileges 5 years. must do at least community service talking to hunter safety groups for at least 2 years.

  4. No! The punishment is a joke! As responsible, law abiding hunters, we should push for more stringent consequences for wantonly violating game laws.

  5. As a poor non-resident, I’d have to pay an outfitter at least $6000.for a decent hunt and probably more to shoot a good bull say on Hill ranch or White Mt. Indian reservation.I’d say $20,000.would be more in-line &at lest 5 years no hunting in Wyoming.I wish he had shot wolves instead! Was he related to the judge?

  6. Horrible injustice of a resource!
    This creep should lose his rights for life!!

  7. Michael Stone

    No, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. He stole from everyone and knew exactly what he was doing.

    Anyone with that kind of desire deserves to lose his hunting privileges for life.

  8. He should lose hunting for life ….he knew what he was doing

  9. Barry Hennefer

    Jail time. A fine of at least $20,000 and loss of hunting privileges for life sounds about right.h

  10. He killed 2 animals he needed some jail time like 2 years

  11. He should have had significant jail time (a yr or more) A trophy bull – no different than Grand Theft Auto or Armed Robbery? Should have also been at least a $20,000 fine and he should never be allowed to hunt again. This bullshit of penalties like celebrities get (slap on the hand and 2 days community service), does not deter anything. He’ll be poaching again.

  12. He took two trophy animals away from law abiding hunters for ever so the same should be done for him. Suspended license for good with a nice fine of $50,000

  13. Only $5000? I’m sure if he was a non resident the fine would have been much higher. And loss of hunting privileges for two years? Big deal!


    • Cliff Folkerts

      WGFD does not have any control over what fines or penalties are imposed for these type of poaching instances. Only the judge does…Maybe he should not be re-elected…

  15. shootbrownelk

    The fine should have been $20,000 for the Elk and $5,000 for the cat. He should have gotten 90 days in jail and lost hunting privileges for life.

  16. The punishment doesn’t fit, they need to start suspending hunting privileges for a minimum of 10years.

  17. Hunting is a privilege that should be respected, and for a blatant disregard of the regulations that apply to all of us, he should loose this privilege permanently! The only place for leniency is if he had to do this to feed himself or his family, or if it were two units right next to each other and his navigation was off causing an honest mistake.

  18. This guy is exactly the type of person who should never be granted a hunting license ever again, he is not only a poacher he his a premeditated poacher trying to claim a record book trophy,
    Every salt of the earth hunter should be totally disgusted with this man.

    • Every salt of the earth hunter should be totally disgusted with these “men”! The poacher, the judge, maybe the prosecutor and his lawyer-

  19. punishement does not fit the crime, he should lose all hunting for life, all items used in the crime taken, fine should be 100,000 thousand.Iive seen guide hunts for 37,000.

    • The minor punishment he received is nothing more than an inconvenience. He should be required to donate an extensive amount of his time for the next 5 years (minimum) on state conducted game management projects.

  20. the fine should at least $15000 and lost hunting privileges for life

  21. No! The penalty handed down in this case, as in most all western poaching cases involving trophy ungulates is way to lenient. I’d love to see WY throw the book at him, as I’m guessing most all of us who spend a fortune ( LEGALLY ) chasing western trophy tags would expect them to. However, I would be satisfied if they’d at a minimum require him to compensate the state of WY $10,000 dollars + an additional $10,000 for every yr that bull was over 5 yrs old. This, in my opinion is the minimum lost revenue to the residents and non residents who would have, and would continue to legally pursue that individual animal.

  22. Such a small fine is not a deterrent. Fine should be minimum of $10,000 for each animal. Loss of hunting privileges of 2 years might be sufficient then, but any relapse should result in significantly longer suspension. Third time, jail and life long loss of privilege.

  23. Poachers like Cosby count on the weak court system to accommodate there illegal activities. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time he poached, nor will it be his last. He knew the penalty and figured he’d never get caught and if he did the trophy would be worth it. If it can be proved they deliberately poached (not accidentally) the consequences must be more severe or it will never deter the unethical few that ruin our hunting areas.

  24. This is getting ridiculous. I am reading all these comments that want to lock him up and throw away the key. The guy mad a mistake. A very stupid mistake. I don’t think it is fair to ruin his life and hurt his family long term with him in jail and ruin his family financially. Loose his license for 3 years. $5000 fine. I like the idea of community service at speaking to hunter Ed classses. If this was your brother or dad that made this mistake I think there would be a lot more forgiveness. If he does it again then let’s talk about more serious punishment. My two cents

    • I agree Terry. Some of these guys are calling for harsher punishment than a child molester gets.

      • I dont want to be associated with people who arent competent enough to obide by the laws and regulations that is required to obtain a hunting license. Poaching is not a mistake or accident and should be feerful of being caught for committing such a ignorant act of greed. Maybe it would do his “brothers”or “family” some good if his ignorant ass spent some time in jail. And maybe the next poacher would concider not poaching…and saying im sorry i made a mistske is not acceptable….

    • He purposely made a big mistake. His area was 100 miles from where he killed his elk. It’s not like he got turned around or was skirting the birder

    • Cliff Folkerts

      Made a mistake?? That’s a joke. A mistake is when you accidentally shoot the wrong animal when you are hunting in YOUR hunting area. What Cosby did was willfully and knowingly plot to kill what may have been the biggest bull in that unit( which he DID NOT have a tag for). For one reason…fame and fortune. “Look at me! I’m a great big bull hunter!” His fines and penalties are a slap in the face to all law-abiding hunters. What he did is a disgusting act and has NO PLACE in our hunting society!! Why the judge chose to be so lenient is a question that should perhaps be looked into by our legislature. Until the penalty for trophy poaching exceeds the reward, this activity will NEVER stop.

  25. thats a joke. it is cheaper to poach one and posssibly get away with it than pay an outfitter and shoot one. no way would this deter anyone from doing this or those who are thinking about it.

  26. I am a resident of Wy and I agree with those here above! Punishment way to easy that doesn’t even pay the trophy fee! 5k and 2yrs he will do it again and again!

  27. What really gets me that I haven’t heard mentioned is this; How many offspring might that trophy bull have produced and how many of them may have reproduced? Like seriously how could anyone predict the generations effected to that elk herd by his actions and the true inherent damage inflicted………Obviously for many many reasons the punishments a joke. Is anyone going to petition fish & game so they are aware of our opinions?

    And its one thing to “make a mistake” It’s entirely different to Knowingly go to the lengths he did to hide his actions and get credit for taking a trophy animal. Isn’t pre-mediated murder treated exactly the same as an actual murder in our human judicial system?

  28. I agree with Jay, once a poacher most likely he will always be a poacher..chances are this is not his first time. He just got caught this time and one lead to 2 poaching cases..Lock him up, here in Washington if you mistreat livestock or a pet you will go to prison. Fines really don’t mean much and funds probably go back to the general fund anyway and not used to restore the resource. When it is this blatant just lock them up. Taking away his license will not stop him..Financial he should be fined for all the time spent getting this conviction and funds should go directly back to Wyoming Game and Fish Dept.

  29. Good job to the fish cops for catching this! The fact that he entered the elk into the contest is so blatant. Remember the judge is the one who puts the punishment not the wardens. Wardens catch them. Hope he got the big felony so he can’t own a firearm the rest of his life.

  30. No, way to lenient. $5000 is a drop in the bucket for a trophy bull today. Many hunters wait a lifetime to draw a tag like that. I don’t believe removing hunting priviledges has any effect on a poacher. Heavy fine, confiscate all vehicles and equipment used in the crime and many hours of public service teaching and speaking to hunter education students, detailing what he did and what it cost him.

  31. punishment was a joke. if any non resident did this the locals would be screaming for blood. 10 year loss of hunting privileges in all western states , $20,000 fine .

  32. In WY, the minimum for illegal taking of a trophy animal is $10,000 & this guy took 2 in 1 year. I believe it is also carries 1 year in jail per insistent. In this case, clearly the judge waved the max penalties which occurs far too often in WY even when the Warden recommends the max penalty. There are a lot of things that need changed in WY but it starts at the ballot box. Vote out leinient jugdes and Game & Fish commissioners that won’t push for stiffer penalties.

  33. remember the poaching of Samson the Elk in Estes Park CO ? It happened about Mid 1990s? Now, if you poach a trophy in Colorado you will pay in the hundreds of thousands and jail time.Poaching gives all of us a black eye and should not be tolerated. With that said there are those that make honest mistakes and did not leave their house intending to break the law. I for one support our system of justice when it gets the difference and makes it right.

    • Hundreds of thousands? Come on Terry. The Sampson fine for a 6 point elk or better is $13,500 I think. Geezuz…

  34. This guy is a poacher, a thief. He clearly didn’t care, as he was so bold to enter the bull into contests. His arrogance says more than enough. Taking away his hunting privileges means nothing. Will the absence of a tag in his possession really keep him from doing this again? The punishment should significantly impact his ability to commit another act like this. Confiscate his truck, rifle, bow etc. To be honest restricting a poacher from owning a fire arm (for an amount of time) might not be out of the question of a reasonable punishment.

  35. $5000? 2 years without a license? Get real.
    How about $50,000 and 20 years.
    I wonder if any of his hunting buddies will even talk to him anymore.
    Guys like that give lawful and ethical hunters a bad image

  36. I think the question that needs for be answered here is what is the punishment allowed by the law. Certainly sounds as if the POS went out of his way to take the elk and mountain lion illegally. I would like to know if the judge failed to prescribe the maximum penalty allowed.

  37. Keith Schofer

    I think they should base the fine off now they determine a moo dos loss. They would base the loss of not only the Animal taken but all the future elk it could have produced. How many hundreds of elk could be have created each year of his life by mating. Also he is a poacher not having a license is not going to.stop.him from hunting. He broke one law what make s you think he won’t continue with out the license. I bet he would drive if he lost those rights too.

  38. I am going to be 100 percent honest here. Before I read this article I thought I going to read another story about some drunk-ass that dropped a monster on the winter range threw the elk in the truck and called the magazines.

    This guy killed the elk with a bow in the wrong unit (knowingly) but had a tag. You can’t do that in Wyoming. He should be fined for that.

    I bet he would have been caught if he wasn’t entering it in contests. (Showing off)

    Honestly, (don’t get me wrong, this is bad) This doesn’t make me as mad as some dumb-shit shooting a massive Mule Deer off the winter range. That makes me FURIOUS. This guy… well he is just a schmuck. They took the elk fined him took his bow and embarrassed the HELL out of him. I say situation handled. Maybe in the future he won’t be such a dumbass.

  39. Punishment should be a deterrent to keep this from happening or ever being tempted to do so again. $5,000 in fines and two years suspension to me seems not enough of a consequence. $5,000 is less than what many folks pay for a legal hunt for a good opportunity to kill a mature bull elk and mountain lion. The two years suspension just gives him plenty of time to sight in and shoot his new bow. And, how and where he will plan and scout out his next poach.

  40. So, let me get this straight. A quality guided hunt on private land with the chance of taking a big bull legally is $10,000 or more or one can poach one for a mere $5000? Come on, Wyoming!!

  41. johnnyhellfire

    County Jail (6 month minimum), larger fine ($25,000 minimum) based on a Boone & Crockett score, confiscation of any equipment used ( truck, guns, archery equip., optics…) Loss of all hunting privileges for 10years in Wyoming, and all states that share poaching punishments.
    This man is a criminal, and he should be accountable for his actions!

  42. Poaching should get you a lifetime ban on the species you poached and a 5 year ban on any hunting, then after 5 years you go through Hunters Safety again.

  43. Dennis Shelton

    Not enough. 10000 to 20000 my 2 cents

  44. Too light. He should permanently lose his Wyoming hunting privileges.

  45. This was no mistake as one commentator suggested. This was a deliberate, and intentional act directed at this bull. I feel the fine was light and the hunting ban time was a joke. A longer hunting ban would have no economic effect on his family. Several states have laws that impose a much tougher sentence and fine or persons poaching trophy animals versus a more common trophy. One is called Sampsons law named after a trophy animal that was shot in a park.

  46. I do not feel this was even close to a stiff enough penalty. It is completely unfair to the people who are out hunting in a legal and ethical way. He obviously knew what he was doing and broke the law knowingly. Then proceeded to enter it into contests as if he had taken the bull legally and ethically. It shows a high level of arrogance and a lack of respect that does not lean towards leniency. At a minimum all of the items used during the hunt (pickup, bow, optics, hunting gear, four wheelers, etc) should be confiscated and sold to give money back to the Fish and Game for their efforts. Then a maximum fine for what is currently inline with Wyoming Law. I think a 10 year suspension of hunting rights in all states would be a good place to start. Also, in a case like this where there is blatant disregard for the law they should be punished at the Felony level, and any second offenses concerning wildlife infractions would be processed at a felony level with much stiffer penalties in place for following offenses. Legitimate jail time as well as losing the right to have a firearm because they are now a convicted felon. This scenario might require some changes to Wyoming Law but I feel it would be wise for the Fish and Game as well as the public to push for proper legislation that would give them a lot more teeth instead of bark when t comes to convictions like this. That would help with them not being able to do this again without the possibility of serious consequences. As we all know, it may not deter everyone but if they were caught doing something similar again there could be much harsher penalties, etc. I have no remorse when it comes to people who make these types of decisions and jeopardize the public’s resources in such a heinous way.

  47. Not even close. Penalties should be a deterrent for others. This guy will say “Oh well.” He might take up fishing for a couple of years then be back at it again.

  48. Rocky Reynolds

    All of you saying hunting is a privilege are wrong it’s my God giving right I also think the punishment should have been a lot harder but way to many times people jump to conclusions before all the facts come out but make no mistake about it we the people own the animals not the states so before you go full throttle on wanting this man stoned to death make sure you have heard his side of the story I have hunted all over the world and am shocked by the willingness to believe a one sided story every time

    • Bradley Johnson

      Brother, First… NO ONE “Owns” Any of Natures Critters… Period. End of Story. Next…., If “Poached”, THAT is All I need to know. Hang The Bastard ! (Key word being “IF”) I totally Get what you’re saying I do agree with you. 100%

  49. Bradley Johnson

    Until we start HANGING THESE ignorant Pricks,,, Nothing will ever change ! You slapped his hand, like a toddler? Pathetic, at best ? That Majestic Creature was Only Worth $5000 $$ Really…, REALLY ? Blows My Mind ? $50,000 & NO HUNTING/ ANYWHERE / EVER AGAIN ! Then…. Maybe THEN, these Rat Bastards might THINK before they do this crap ???? COME ONE OFFICIALS ….. “GROW A SET” for the Love of Christ ???

  50. No where near enough fine. Not for restitution of animal or even the legwork investigating the infractions.

  51. The time to give input is during the trial. We all as sportsmen could have showed up as victims and testified. Seems a light on the punishment (i see llittle deterrent here), but remember these judges see rapists and child abusers all day long. A poacher to a non-hunting judge is not a big deal.
    A reminder of where we are this day and age: Social media and the pressure to be recognized as a successful hunter has gone too far.. This mentality is everywhere around us. Fair chase needs to be instilled in the youth. Each of us could make an effort, take some kids hunting. Show them by example to follow the rules..

  52. I am not sure on the dollar amount other than all expenses should be paid that were incurred to investigate and convict. Minimum 7 years without privileges. Keep the guy out of the field and hope he learns. Odds are good he won’t pay a heavy fine and the state is not going to spend the resources to collect it….or if so, will settle on a lesser amount.

    Keep him out of the field.

  53. $12,346 and 973 days locked up with wife beaters.

  54. Poaching should be made a FELONY. With a felony conviction, poachers will never again be able to own or even possess a firearm of any type, will never again be able to vote and the Judge has the discretion to place restrictions on the possession of archery equipment, although that’s extremely rare. Plus, the poacher will still have to pay court costs, fines, fees and other costs. Come on legislators. Make poaching a serious crime. Make poaching a FELONY.

  55. Michael Myers

    The punishment was too light, min. 6 mo. in jail and loss of license for 5 years for each animal illegally harvested. (wondering did he act alone?). Anyone helping should receive the same punishment as being an accomplice.

  56. Brad-Shana Muske

    He got off way to cheap! It should cost as much as the cost off out off state tag and going with a trophy hunt outfitter fee! 10-15 thousand dollars then revoke hunting privileges for ten years!

  57. If we want to get serious about eliminating this type of behavior, then the punishment must be more severe. This was a premeditated move on his part, not an accident. I’d suggest $50,000 in fines and revoke his hunting privileges for life, in this state and reciprocal states.

  58. BK Ammenwerth

    How in the hell is a $5000 fine right? Poaching should be hard fines and jail time to deter that kind of behavior. Hell at that price guys could just start killing world class bulls or mule deer and the fine is a small fraction of what a non resident has in points, tag, and license fees. 5k for a bull is considered cheap for 350 class bulls. I just don’t get it. Lock them up and hit their $$$ hard. $100 per inch of antler. But with these small slaps on the wrist it says 2 things. 1) the judge and state don’t value the resource. 2) neither do poachers!! This type of stuff is BS just like the crow Indian who knowingly poached and is now trying to fight it as his right to poach anywhere off res.

  59. David Schlueter

    $15,000 fine loss of everything he used to get including truck, bow or rifle. Jail time. And 5 years no hunting.
    Might think a little harder before some pulls the trigger.

  60. daniel erickstad

    I think the fine should be larger and lose privileges for 10 years,no jail time, we dont need to be taking care of anyone else, let them work and pay the fines,maybe in the ten years he will realize the error of his ways.Jail time is good for nobody.

  61. Poaching is a PRE-MEDITATED Act by a GREEDY mind.
    Hunting is a PRIVILEGE( should be a Right) and poaching should be a Permanent lifetime ban of privileges. It is cowardly stealing from ALL Americans.
    Poaching should be a FELONY with loss of citizen rights & privileges.
    No Voting, No driving, No hunting, Not elidgible for any Government assistance. No nothing.
    The convicted poacher should be demoted to a second class human and ostracized till death. Snakes and vermin deserve more. There should be no opportunity for repatriation for a poacher. Let him crawl on his belly like a reptile until he is dead.

  62. Take away hunting privileges for life, and auction off all items used to commit the offense; guns, vehicle etc. That will get poachers attention. Hunters do not need shit-bags like this in their ranks or afield.

  63. No! The fine is in fact a joke. Does fine money go back to fish and wildlife? This jackhole gets off with a slap on the wrist as farasf time and money. Meanwhile as a non resident, I just keep dealing with point and tag prices going up, in hopes of hunting animals like he poached.Loss of all hunting privileges for up to 10 years, and not allowed to apply for any try trophy unit elk tags for life. Not that any of this will stop a guy who already is blatantly ignoring the law. If you were on the wrong ridge on the edge of a unit is one thing. Being a hundred freakin’ miles from your unit is beyond comprehension, as a mistake. The judge who tapped this guy’s wrist is not without blame in all of this.

  64. I agree with a lot of the comments that have been entered. I think that the punishment did not fit the crime. I don’t believe that he should serve jail time or pay more than 10k. But I do think that he should have his hunting privileges taken away for 10 years. Problem is with guys like this is that they will keep poaching because they can’t hunt because they got poaching. Wyoming was pretty lenient 3 yrs ago with the guy that shot that trophy mule deer out of season as well. Too bad.

  65. I think a $10,000 fine, 30 days in jail, and a suspension of his hunting rights for 5 years sounds about right. I think this would be a blend of just punishment, but not devastating.

  66. I think they should cut his nuts out. That would make others think about it before they poached.Plus we don’t want him making any future poachers.

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