Colorado Big Game Hunting Outfitter Sentenced to More Than Two Years for Role in Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunts
Christopher W. Loncarich, 55, of Mack, Colorado, was sentenced in federal court in Denver yesterday to serve 27 months in prison. The sentence was a result of Loncarich’s guilty plea to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from his sale of outfitting services for illegal mountain lion and bobcat hunts in Colorado and Utah, the Justice Department announced.
On Aug. 15, 2014, Loncarich pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife that has been taken or possessed in violation of state laws or regulations.
According to the plea agreement, and an indictment returned by the grand jury for the District of Colorado on Jan. 7, 2014, Loncarich conspired with others to provide numerous illegal hunts of mountain lions and bobcats in Colorado and Utah from 2007 to 2010. In particular, Loncarich and his confederates trapped, shot and caged mountain lions and bobcats prior to hunts in order to provide easier chases of the cats for clients. Loncarich also admitted that he and his assistants guided several hunters that did not possess a Utah mountain lion or bobcat license on mountain lion or bobcat hunts in Utah. Loncarich’s base of operations in Mack, Colorado, is approximately five miles from the Utah-Colorado border. Loncarich sold mountain lion hunts for between $3,500 and $7,500 and bobcat hunts for between $700 and $1,500.
Four of Loncarich’s assistant guides have previously pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations in connection with their guiding activities with Loncarich. On July 30, 2014, Loncarich’s lead assistant guide, Nicholaus J. Rodgers, pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act in connection with his work for Loncarich.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The case is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.