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Montrose man to pay $10,000 in fines for illegally killing big game

MONTROSE, Colo. — A western Colorado man who pleaded guilty in late June to illegally killing big game will pay $10,000 in fines and could lose his hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 47 other states, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has announced.

Hayden Barnard, 23, of Olathe, pleaded guilty to a variety of wildlife crimes in Montrose district court in late June, admitting that he illegally killed several deer dating back to 2006 and a bear; he was also complicit in a poaching incident that involved his cousin.

“Thanks to a tip by a member of the public to Operation Game Thief, we’ve removed a serial poacher from Colorado,” said Natalie Renneker, a district wildlife manager for CPW in Montrose. “Poachers are criminals and rob the public and hunters of the opportunity to see and hunt Colorado’s wildlife.”

The break in the case occurred on Jan. 22 when CPW received a tip that a deer was killed near the Transfer Road on the Uncompahgre Plateau west of Montrose. Wildlife officers responded that evening and discovered a dead mule deer buck with only its antlers removed.

Based on information provided through the OGT tip, CPW officers, with the assistance of Montrose County Sheriff’s deputies and Olathe Police Department officers, served search warrants at Barnard’s residence in February. During the subsequent investigation, Barnard admitted to killing the buck. He also admitted to illegally killing another buck in 2006, two additional bucks, and a black bear from 2017 through 2019. The antlers from all the deer and a bear skull were confiscated from Barnard during the investigation.

On June 24, Barnard pleaded guilty to felony destruction of wildlife for the poaching last January of the buck deer. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor of aggravated illegal possession of three or more big game animals for the poaching of multiple deer and a black bear over the course of several years.

Barnard was fined $8,500 and will pay an additional $1,500 to Operation Game Thief. All illegally taken wildlife parts and the Savage .243 Model 99 rifle used to kill the deer were confiscated by CPW. He was also assessed 40 suspension points, which means that he’ll likely lose his privileges to hunt and fish in Colorado and 47 other states. In addition, Barnard was found to be complicit in the illegally killing of a buck In December 2018 by his cousin Wade Barnard of Cedaredge. Wade paid $4,093 in fines and could lose his license privileges.

“We were able to move quickly and solve other wildlife crimes at the same time thanks to a member of the public who knew it was important to call this in,” Renneker said. “Wildlife in Colorado belongs to all of us and CPW relentlessly pursues poachers.”

The man who reported the incident in January will receive a $500 award from Operation Game Thief.

Anyone who has information about a possible wildlife crime is encouraged to call the nearest CPW office or report it anonymously to Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT, and emails can be sent to game.thief@state.co.us. Rewards are paid for information that leads to an arrest or citation being issued.