October 5, 2022

Poachers Beware!

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*Update – 10:00 am* scroll for the updates.
Years ago, not that I would have any first hand knowledge, poaching was, well, more commonplace than it is now? It was pretty hard to prove anyone was poaching unless they pretty much got caught with one hand in the cookie jar and the other holding a cookie that’s in your mouth. The times they are a changing my friend.

With the scientific technology of today, it is much easier to pin the blame on someone even years after the fact. Take for example Charles Pedraza of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He has been found guilty of illegally shooting a moose in Colorado during the 2002 elk hunting season there. He has been fined $11,391 for starters.

It wasn’t completely technology that found him out. It took the help of a couple of concerned citizens. The first call came when someone found a moose skull with the antlers having been cut off that had been dug up by a bear. Along with that, authorities found remnants of plastic garbage bags and other moose skeletal remains.

Later on authorities got another tip via the “Operation Game Thief” hotline that linked Pedraza to the killing. Officials did some checking and found that Pedraza had a cow elk permit for that area but was never issued a moose permit.

With the assistance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pedraza was contacted and he sang like a canary even admitting that he figured after 4 years his worries were over.

The hide from that moose Pedraza had in cold storage and DNA testing matched the hide with the other remains found in the woods. Even if Pedraza hadn’t confessed, I feel quite confident that he would have been had.

So the next time you are toying with the idea of illegally bagging some game, think CSI and DNA.

Tom Remington

*Update* A clarification is needed in how Pedraza actually got caught. He did indeed confess AND he promised to return to Colorado Springs, his former hometown, but didn’t show. USF&WS obtained a search warrant for the storage area where officials found the hide.

Pedraza in addition to the $11,391 fine also falls under the Samson Law. The Samson Law mandates a $10,000 fine for anyone illegally shooting a trophy animal. Officials say any bull moose falls into the category covered by the law.

In addition to the fines, Pedraza lost 15 points from his license – not enough to lose his hunting privileges.

Tom Remington