DENVER – A Texas man accused of poaching elk on private property in Jefferson County was fined more than $50,000 for the illegal killings, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced on Friday.
Raymond P. Muse, 50, of Chireno, Texas, pleaded guilty to willful destruction of wildlife, a felony charge, and 11 misdemeanors, including illegal possession of wildlife and hunting without a license. He also received two years of supervised probation and a hunting and fishing suspension and was ordered to serve 96 hours of public service and pay restitution to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Muse would drive around neighborhoods in the Conifer and Evergreen area, where his sister lived, looking for wildlife, officials said. When he spotted an animal, he would stash his hunting gear out of sight and go park his vehicle in a public area. Muse would then bicycle back to the spot where he stashed his gear, change into camouflage clothing and begin to hunt, officials said.
Investigators were tipped off to Muse in September 2018, when an Evergreen resident noticed a man on his property with a headless elk. Three Jefferson County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to the report and tried to contact Muse, who was wearing camouflage, but Muse fled.
The investigators found a backpack and cell phone at the scene, and the phone provided "invaluable" information about Muse's poaching, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Wildlife officers later found a bicycle, compound bow, another backpack, clothing and the head of a bull elk in the area. The discovery showed that Muse was sneaking onto private property to hunt wildlife, the news release said.
In total, Muse illegally killed five elk and one deer, and three of the elk were considered "trophy" animals, officials said.
Muse had bought a elk hunting license in Colorado but it wasn't valid in the Evergreen or Conifer area.
“Illegal and unethical actions like what Mr. Muse participated in put a black eye on hunters," CPW Wildlife Officer Scott Murdoch said in the news release. "Mr. Muse’s actions are those of a poacher, not a hunter, and it is good to bring somebody like Mr. Muse to justice.”