An Ignacio outfitter has been banned from hunting in the United States for five years after poaching deer.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife received various tips for 20 years that Antler Meadows Outfitters owner Robert Peck had been killing mule deer during the winter months, when hunting deer is prohibited.
About three years ago, investigators documented enough tips to open an investigation on Peck, said Cary Carron, Division Wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Several investigators went undercover and on guided hunts with Peck. Several of the hunters were led into units where the hunters were not licensed, and Peck was seen killing an elk illegally and putting another hunters tag on the animal, Carron said.
Investigators also set up intensive surveillance in 2011, and they were able to substantiate claims that Peck hunted deer during the offseason.
Investigators searched Pecks house in March 2012 and found two mule deer that Carron said investigators knew were killed illegally on tribal land and purchased by Peck. They also found more than 200 sets of mule deer antlers, but there was no documentation to indicate whether they were obtained legally or illegally, Carron said.
Peck, 66, was originally charged with 14 counts in 6th Judicial District Court, including six felonies, but he agreed to a plea deal reducing charges to seven misdemeanors. Peck pleaded guilty to three counts of hunting without a proper and valid license, three counts of illegal possession of wildlife and one count of illegal transfer of a license.
He was sentenced to five years of supervised probation, and is prohibited from hunting anywhere in the United States during that time. Also, he is banned from participating in any hunting-related activities, including guiding hunters, leasing land for hunting, brokering licenses or participating in any commercial hunting activities.
While penalties could have been more severe, the most important aspect of this conviction is that this outfitter will no longer be participating in hunting, outfitting or wildlife-related activities, Stephanie Schuler, a district wildlife officer who also works out of Bayfield, said in a news release.
Pecks probation went into effect Nov. 20 once the hunting season ended.
Authorities delayed the start of the probation period until after the season had ended because clients had already booked and paid for hunting guides through Pecks outfitting business, Carron said.
Pecks wife, Diane, is also facing misdemeanor charges, including illegal transfer of a license, but the charges have yet to be adjudicated.
Investigators believe she was helping her husband in the poaching operation, Carron said.