Three poachers from Craig have been convicted of the illegal
killing of multiple deer and several other crimes, according to Colorado Parks
An agency news release says officials began looking into
this case in January 2018 after receiving a tip someone had seen a dead deer in
the back of a vehicle driven by a 17-year-old after hunting season had closed.
As the investigation proceeded, CPW officers discovered two
other men were working with the teen to poach the deer. They also reported
tried to destroy evidence and were involved in a Moffat County burglary.
“It appears they had killed quite a few deer over a long
period of time, and if not for the tip it’s likely they would have continued to
do so,” said District Wildlife Officer Johnathan Lambert, the lead
investigator in the case, in a statement.
In an agreement with the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s
Office this month, the teen pleaded guilty to aggravated illegal
take/possession of three or more big game animals and tampering with evidence.
He must serve an 18-month deferred adjudication, make a
$2,000 donation to Operation Game Thief, complete 40 hours of community service
and subject to the terms of his 18-month supervised probation period.
Also, Levi Baysinger, 23, pleaded guilty in August to the willful
destruction of a big game animal. He was given an 18-month deferred judgment
Baysinger was also tied to a cold-case burglary in Moffat County and pleaded guilty to criminal mischief.
In total, he must pay $2,393 in fines and make a $2,000 donation to Operation Game Thief, CPW’s wildlife violator tip line. He must complete 40 hours of community service and an 18-month supervised probation period. Baysinger also forfeited a .22 pistol he used to kill the deer.
In July 2018, John Pinnt, 42, pleaded guilty to obstructing law enforcement by destroying evidence. He was ordered to pay $1,418 and complete an 18-month supervised probation period. In addition, Pinnt is currently serving a five-year suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 47 other Wildlife Violator Compact States.
Baysinger and the juvenile are facing the possible lifetime suspension of their hunting and fishing privileges, pending a review of their case by a CPW hearings examiner, according to the agency.
CPW investigators say when they asked the juvenile and his father about the deer in the truck, the juvenile denied involvement. The officers then discovered the teen hid the poached deer in a locked storage shed rented by Pinnt. The deer later disappeared before officers could recover it.
While investigating the case, officers witnessed Pinnt trying to destroy evidence of deer DNA in the shed and recovered enough evidence from other items in the shed to make a connection.
“That was all we needed to confirm that the dead deer
in the back of his truck was the same deer that had been stored in the
shed,” Lambert said. “And that’s how we tied these two suspects to
the same crime, and the other crimes as well.”
As the investigation revealed additional information, wildlife officers assisted the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office with a cold-case burglary that occurred on property Baysinger and the juvenile had access to at approximately the same time the juvenile poached the deer.
On that property, officers recovered the decaying carcasses of eight additional buck mule deer, some with antlers removed, some with heads removed and meat abandoned, others abandoned entirely intact.
“It was a disturbing find,” Lambert said in the release. “One of the buck deer heads found with antlers still attached contained eight .22 caliber bullets lodged inside the skull. With the assistance of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, we matched the bullets to the pistol owned by Levi.”
To report a wildlife violation anonymously, anyone can call Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available.