A Farmington man who shot and killed a moose that he mistook for an elk near Silverton last year has been fined $1,000 as a result of the incident, but state wildlife officials decided not to ban him from hunting in Colorado.
On the evening of Oct. 21, 2018, the hunter, identified as Bruce Black, self-reported to authorities he had mistakenly killed a moose up South Mineral Creek Road, northwest of Silverton.
Black said he spotted an animal he thought was an elk lying down and in shadow around 6 p.m., as light was beginning to fade. He told authorities he was 300 yards away and saw the antlers and head of the animal straight on.
Black did not have binoculars and was using only the scope of his rifle, which state wildlife officials say often contributes to misidentifying animals.
The moose, which Black mistook for an elk, stood up, and Black took the shot.
“It was too dark to see coloration,” Black told investigators.
Black was charged with careless hunting, which carries a fine of up to $1,000. A spokesman with Colorado Parks and Wildlife said he was fined the full penalty.
Black also faced an assessment of 20 hunting license suspension points. According to state law, a hunter with 20 points or more in a five year period faces a suspension of his or her hunting license, with a CPW hearing officer determining the length of suspension.
CPW, however, ultimately decided not to suspend Black’s privilege to hunt in the state.
In a statement sent to The Durango Herald, CPW said the decision was based on the fact that Black’s actions were negligent, not intentional. He also immediately self-reported, which allowed for the meat to be salvaged and donated to a family.
“Mr. Black did what CPW requires of hunters who mistakenly kill an animal and he paid his fines in county court,” CPW said in the statement. “A license suspension is meant to be remedial in nature and not further punishment.”
Black, who is in his 80s and lives in Farmington, did not appear at his suspension hearing in Denver. CPW was not able to immediately provide a written statement he submitted, which was approved by state wildlife officials.
At the time of the incident, Black made a statement to CPW apologizing and showing remorse.
“I’ve never felt like a bigger idiot,” he said. “I feel sick about it.”
Black, when contacted Wednesday afternoon, said he could not talk until later in the day.
Recently, a Grand Junction couple admitted guilt and paid fines of about $2,000 for killing a moose on private property, where hunting is not allowed, near Lake City. The decision whether to suspend their hunting privileges in Colorado is pending.