Poaching Cases Rattle Colorado Park Areas

Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have been working on several cases relating to illegal elk poaching. While some of these efforts have led to the arrests in recent weeks, Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers continue to request information on poaching in their park.

Park rangers discovered a large elk with a severed head along the Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park in September. They believed the elk was killed on or just before September 12.

Ten days later, another dead elk was discovered about 5 miles away.

This discovery sparked alarm due to its occurrence during one of the busiest months for the park, during which individuals travel from across the country to see the elk in their peak breeding season.

In October, another decapitated elk was found just outside a nearby resort. Although the relation to the earlier cases was not confirmed, the method of operation was strikingly similar.

These events caused the park rangers to work in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create an award fund for any information received on the killings.

In February, the reward had grown to $15,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers have also been pursuing unrelated illegal poaching cases in the state.

Last month, a team of Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers and federal park rangers executed a warrant on the home of 27-year-old Colorado Springs man Iniki Vike Kapu and found evidence of poaching.

Kapu was found attempting to flee the property and was apprehended in the backyard of his home.

Kapu is being held on suspicion of felony and misdemeanor charges relating to poaching deer, elk, and turkey, as well as unlawful possession of wildlife.

While this spells hope for some, the Rocky Mountain Park Rangers are still working to collect information regarding the poaching cases in their jurisdiction. In October, a Denver, Colorado magazine reported that poaching cases have been on the rise in the state, causing alarm for both law enforcement and the public.

Rocky Mountain National Park and special agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urge anyone with information on the park elk poaching case to call the National Park Service Investigative Services Bureau at 888-653-0009, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement at 720-981-2777 or Operation Game Thief at 800-332-4155.

*CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article implied that the Rocky Mountain National Park case had been solved. That is incorrect, as only the Colorado Fish and Wildlife case has been solved. Rocky Mountain National Park Rangers are still investigating and encourage public comment to assist in their efforts.*

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