A Colorado Springs man was hit with jail time, possible loss of hunting privileges, and other penalties following a large-scale multi-county poaching case in which he was accused of killing more than a dozen animals illegally.
According to the official press release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Iniki Vike Kapu, 27, was accused by wildlife officers of illegally killing 12 deer, two turkeys, and a bighorn sheep.
On February 3, 2020, Kapu plead guilty to illegal possession of bighorn sheep in Fremont County, as well as to illegal possession of three or more big game animals. He was sentenced to six months in jail and three years of supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $4,600 and forfeit all weapons used in the poaching incidents.
The search for answers initially started in October 2018 after wildlife officers got a tip about a dead deer seen in the back of a red truck that was stuck and abandoned on a remote road in the Pike National Forest. Upon searching the truck, officers discovered the license plates on the truck were stolen. An untagged dead doe, spoiled meat, and a Colorado fishing license belonging to Kapu were also found.
Thanks to tips from the public, @COParksWildlife officers were able to stop a three-county poaching spree by a #ColoradoSprings man. We salute everyone who contacts #OperationGameThief (877-265-6648) to report poaching. 🙌👏👍 https://t.co/eto4BNknqT pic.twitter.com/vXW1jBx9gq
— CPW SE Region (@CPW_SE) February 13, 2020
Kapu and a woman were located camping in a trailer where officers found additional evidence of poaching including deer hair, a turkey head, burned arrows, knives with blood, deer hair, and rubber gloves with trace evidence.
As the Teller County investigation continued, Kapu was stopped in Chaffee County by a Forest Service officer who noticed a loaded firearm in his vehicle in December 2018. Kapu fled the scene, but was later captured after wrecking his truck. The truck was discovered to be filled with animal quarters.
At first, Kapu claimed parts of the slaughtered deer were from roadkill, but later plead guilty to illegal possession of wildlife and reckless driving.
The case finally broke in February 2019 after officers located six deer heads, a ¾-curl bighorn sheep head, and several quarters of meat outside a trailer and camp in Fremont County which belonged to Kapu. When search warrants were executed, authorities collected additional weapons and evidence linking Kapu to the multi-county poaching spree.
Wildlife crimes can be reported anonymously by contacting the Operation Game Thief by phone at 877-265-6648 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A $500 reward is offered for information on cases involving big game or endangered species and $250 for information on turkey, and $100 for fishing and small game cases.
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