Wildlife officers face a myriad of incidents in the field — from the serious, like poaching cases, to the ridiculous.
Here’s a roundup of recently reported poaching cases.
Couple Pleads Guilty to Mule-Deer Poaching
A man and wife from Gillette were sentenced to pay nearly $10,000 in fines and restitution after they pleaded guilty to poaching a buck mule deer last fall.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reported Rocky and Sarah Lamascolo were convicted in connection to a November 2017 poaching of a large non-typical buck mule deer in Campbell County.
Sarah Lamascolo pleaded guilty on Dec. 5, 2017 for making a false statement to purchase a Wyoming resident general deer license and was ordered to pay a fine of $805 and had her hunting privileges suspended for a year in Wyoming and 47 other Wildlife Violator Compact member states.
Rocky Lamascolo pleaded guilty last month to killing a buck mule deer without a license/during a closed season. He was ordered to pay a $5,055 fine and $4,000 in restitution. The .270 rifle he used in the crime was forfeited and his hunting privileges in Wyoming and Violator Compact states were suspended until June 2, 2021.
The investigation revealed Rocky Lamascolo had purchased two nonresident doe/fawn deer licenses and one nonresident cow/calf elk license for the 2017 hunting season. He did not have a license for antlered buck mule deer. Sarah Lamascolo, purchased a 2017 resident general deer license on the evening of Nov. 8.
Wardens interviewed the couple at their home on Nov. 11, 2017, when wild game meat was found on a cutting table as well as antlers to a large non-typical buck. Rocky Lamascolo told investigators the cut-up meat was from a doe mule deer he killed the previous week.
The interview also revealed the suspects had lived in Texas from May 2016 until May 2017 and neither met Wyoming’s residency requirements for hunting. Sarah Lamascolo said she purchased the 2017 deer license on Nov. 8 after her husband called her and asked her to buy one so he could have it legally mounted by a taxidermist.
More from a WGFD press release:
Continued investigation by wardens yielded photographs and video taken on Nov. 4, 2017, of a large 6-by-8, non-typical buck mule deer alive along the Bittercreek Road in Deer Hunt Area 17 in northern Campbell County. The photos and video, voluntarily provided by two Campbell County residents, matched the antlers seized from the Lamascolo residence by wardens.
Deer Hunt Area 17 had closed to the taking of antlered mule deer on Oct. 20 – 19 days prior to Rocky Lamascolo illegally killing the buck mule deer on Nov. 8. When this was discovered, the charges filed against Rocky Lamascolo in Crook County were dismissed and re-filed in Campbell County where the violation occurred.
“Information provided in the initial report and the willingness of concerned citizens to step up and provide crucial evidence, were key to apprehending Mr. Lamascolo,” said South Gillette Game Warden Dustin Kirsch.
Passing the Buck Results in Charges
In May, Harris County game wardens stopped by a Spring taxidermy shop for a compliance check. In the course of inspecting several trophy white-tailed racks, one of the wardens discovered two sets of antlers allegedly killed by the same 8-year-old hunter.
The heads had been turned in by the father, but reported under the juvenile’s license. Further investigation revealed the father had advised the taxidermist he had killed one of the bucks, but the wardens found no record of the individual possessing a valid hunting license for the year in question.
Subsequent contact and interviews with the father and son confirmed the father had, in fact, killed the trophy buck in Val Verde County without a valid hunting license. The father was cited for hunting without a license, and civil restitution for the whitetail buck is pending.
A Combustible Situation
Also in Texas, a Gonzales County game warden received a tip on June 9, that a white-tailed doe may have been shot during or before a grass fire started in the southern part of the county.
Armed with details about a vehicle that had burned in the fire, the warden pieced together information that led to a group of hog hunters who had entered the field, where one of them shot a white-tailed doe. At some point after the doe was shot, the hunters’ vehicle caught the field on fire, along with their vehicle.
Cases filed include hunting without a valid license, taking white-tailed deer in closed season and civil restitution. Assistance from the Nixon-Smiley Police Department was paramount in the investigation.
Reward Offered in Poaching of Mountain Goats
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said a reward of up to $1,000 has been offered to find who’s responsible for shooting and killing two mountain goats found dead July 3 near the summit of Quandary Peak on the Quandary Peak Trail.
Both animals were shot in the head at close range with a pistol, the agency said in a news release.
“We ask that anyone who was near the summit of Quandary Peak Tuesday help us locate those responsible for this egregious poaching,” said Tom Davies, District Wildlife Manager with CPW. “Killing a mountain goat in this manner is a felony, and these poachers can face jail time, license suspensions and fines that can reach over $20,000 per animal.”