Three Colorado men pleaded guilty to the 2008 illegal killing of half a dozen elk and mule deer in Utah’s Book Cliffs.
“The severe disregard for wildlife and wildlife law in this case is appalling,” said TJ Robertson, conservation officer of the Utah Division of Wildlife.
Erik Ambriz and Michael Gordon shot and killed a trophy bull elk in Bitter Creek Canyon in October 2008. They tagged the bull with a Colorado resident youth archery license while transporting it back to Colorado. A call to the Utah Division of Wildlife Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) hotline initiated an investigation into this incident, which uncovered several brazen wildlife crimes in Utah and Colorado.
Investigators learned that Ambriz, Gordon, and Adam Boden shot and killed a cow elk in Utah that was sold in Colorado. They also shot a trophy bull elk in Colorado and offered to sell it to undercover investigators. The spree continued with two more bucks shot and killed near the mouth of Bitter Creek Canyon. The heads were severed and the carcasses left to waste. As investigators were closing in on them, Ambriz killed another six-point trophy bull elk near Wild Cow Wash in the Book Cliffs where it was left for Gordon to retrieve.
Gordon and Boden pleaded guilty to several class A misdemeanor charges of Aiding and Assisting in the Wanton Destruction of Protected Wildlife. Both were ordered to pay $4,000 each in restitution. Gordon was sentenced to pay $2,000 in fines and Boden was sentenced to pay $790 in fines.
Their hunting privileges have been revoked for 20 and 10 years, respectively, in Utah and 37 other states participating in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
Ambriz served four years in the Colorado State Prison for the killing of a six-point trophy bull elk and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person prior to being arraigned in Utah on five felony charges. In a September, 2012 plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to three third-degree felonies of Wanton Destruction of Protected Wildlife. He was ordered to pay $2,200 in fines and $4,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to serve 120 days in the Grand County Jail in Moab.
Ambriz lost all wildlife license privileges in State of Colorado for the remainder of his life. That suspension will be honored by all states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact states.
The combined efforts of concerned citizens and the collaboration of three agencies the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service brought a successful conclusion to this case.