Who knew a bobcat was worth so little?
On Wednesday, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist pleaded guilty in Grand Junction federal court to a felony charge that he transported a pelt from a cat taken in Colorado and sold it, mislabeled, in Utah for about $350.
The biologist, Thad Bingham, 46, of Fruita, is alleged to have led a conspiracy to sell 51 bobcat pelts from 2012 to 2016. Most were sold to Greek buyers, said The Daily Sentinel, in Grand Junction. They appeared to have netted about $500 apiece. According to an indictment, Bingham and the others also hunted and skinned the cats. The other conspirators were not charged. We hope they will be.
In 2016, Bingham and three others, including another Fish and Wildlife biologist, were charged with poaching an elk on private land near Rifle. Bingham was caught after he posted a picture of himself with the dead beast. A plea agreement reduced that to a misdemeanor conviction for trespassing and illegal possession of wildlife.
Of all of the things that federal wildlife biologists could get up to, it is hard for us to think of many that so blatantly defy the spirit of conservation.
The latest turn for Bingham comes just over a week after the state Wildlife Commission moved to continue bobcat hunting. It is possible to hunt them for good reasons, just as we are sure that most federal wildlife biologists will be disgusted by the cruel selfishness of Bingham and his pals. But this looks terrible. We hope Fish and Wildlife will scrutinize it.
Bingham will be sentenced in August. At a minimum, he will be barred from owning firearms.