colorado resident sentenced in federal court for wildlife crimes
TAnchorage, Alaska – United States Attorney Karen Loeffler announced that a Colorado man was sentenced in federal court in Fairbanks to five years of probation and fined $60,000, for two felony counts of violating the Lacey Act, and eleven misdemeanor counts of violating the National Wildlife Refuge Act.
On June 3, 2011, Christopher Cassidy, 51, a resident of Fruita, Colorado, was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Ralph R. Beistline. The sentence was a result of Cassidy’s earlier pleas of guilty to the charges of unlawful guiding activities from 2005 through 2009. As a convicted felon, Cassidy may not possess a firearm. Cassidy is also prohibited from hunting, guiding, or outfitting in Alaska during the term of his probation.
Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Cooper advised the court that Cassidy, a registered guide, provided guiding services for a Dall sheep hunting client in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, knowing the Dall sheep was possessed illegally. Cassidy guided the hunting client outside Cassidy’s federal special use permit area, and did not salvage all the edible meat as required by law. Cassidy also submitted a false record to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in order to conceal the fact that aircraft was used during the Dall sheep hunt. Cassidy’s federal special use permit allowed the use of certain aircraft for transporting supplies, equipment, and personnel into base camp, but prohibited the use of aircraft during the hunt.
Cassidy also provided unlawful guiding and outfitting services in violation of his federal special use permit on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lands in eleven additional hunts for Dall sheep and caribou, resulting in the take of six Dall sheep outside Cassidy’s assigned guiding area. Special use permits for big game guiding within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are competitively issued, and provide the guide-outfitter exclusive commercial guiding use within an assigned area. Cassidy, in cooperation with a neighboring guide-outfitter, used the neighboring guide-outfitter’s permit area to conduct the illegal hunts.
Charging documents detail two additional felony Lacey Act violations involving an unlawful hunt and associated false record for a grizzly bear taken by a client prior to purchasing and possessing a valid big game tag. Cassidy guided the hunter, who purchased the grizzly bear tag from Cassidy after killing the bear on Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the court dismissed the two counts involving the bear, although Cassidy admitted providing guiding services and transporting the bear before the client purchased a grizzly bear tag.
This investigation continues to be a cooperative effort by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.