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CO - hunting violation

DOW cites Mallett with illegal hunting

By Paul Goetz
Mail News Editor

Chaffee County Commissioner Jerry Mallett of Salida Tuesday told The Mountain Mail of citations issued to him by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Mallett said he was cited for hunting in the wrong unit and unlawful taking of an elk, both misdemeanors.

He said he will not dispute the charges and will pay fines and fees imposed by the DOW.

"Historically I have always bought an elk tag in Unit 56," Mallett said.

But last year, after hearing about a large elk population from friends, he bought a tag in Unit 481, north of Chalk Creek.

The incident occurred Dec. 29 on the Bertschy Ranch off CR 260 about a mile south of Centerville and 5 miles south of Chalk Creek and Nathrop.

Mallett said he applied for his tag in March 2006. He said when Bill Dvorak of Nathrop asked him to hunt, he didn't remember his tag was in Unit 481.

"I was with Bill in Unit 56. I shot an elk and he shot an elk. He had a tag and I forgot that I did not have a tag for Unit 56," Mallett said.

"I've been hunting for 54 years and this is the first time I made a mistake," he said.

According to Mallett, he and Dvorak each shot cow elk. The two were hunting during a private land season that ends Jan. 31.

Dvorak went to get the truck, Mallett told The Mail. Meanwhile, when Mallett went to get a saw from the truck, wildlife officer Ron Dobson was speaking with Dvorak.

Mallett said he believed the property owner had called the DOW.

"He (Dvorak) was charged because he was with me. He assumed I had a tag for that unit," Mallett said, noting he didn't know what Dvorak's citation was for.

Mallett said he has been hunting with Dvorak for years and believed Dvorak had hunted on the property before and had permission of the owner.

"I feel bad. I've hunted with Bill for 25 years and this was my fault," Mallett said.

Mallett delivered a letter to the editor to The Mail Tuesday accepting responsibility for the incident.

Mallett's total fine will be $1,430 and 20 points could be taken off his license. He said he plans to pay the fine Jan. 22 when he returns from a trip to Tennessee. Penalties, if any, will be assessed later.

Dvorak did not return a call to him from The Mail.

Division of Wildlife officials wouldn't release the incident report and didn't give any details relating to the case, including names of individuals cited.

Wildlife officials told The Mail Jan. 3, they were investigating an incident which took place Dec. 29 near Centerville and west of U.S. 285.

"This is still a pending case, so I can't say anything beyond that until (the citations) are paid or docketed in court," Dobson said. "We don't want these individuals tried in the media, or (to) jeopardize these cases."

He said citations issued were for hunting in the wrong unit and unlawful taking of an elk and that two individuals were cited.

Fines for hunting in the wrong unit are $68 and fines for unlawful taking of an elk are $1,370. If found guilty, both hunters could be issued penalties.

"The charges are worth 20 points against their licenses. With 20 points they are riding the rail," Dobson said.

"It is possible they could lose hunting privileges for about one year. But it's only a possibility. They will need to go before a hearing examiner to determine (what penalties, if any, are issued) after that."

Colorado Division of Wildlife personnel ask anyone with information regarding poaching incidents call the Operation Game Thief Hotline, (877) 265-6648.

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