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NM: Hunting legend Darner sentenced in theft

Hunting legend Darner sentenced in theft
By Nancy Lofholm
The Denver Post

Posted: 01/14/2009 03:13:09 PM MST Updated: 01/14/2009 05:58:09 PM MST

Hunting legend Kirt Darner was sentenced this week in New Mexico to pay $10,000 in fines and perform 4,500 hours of community service for illegally transporting elk and receiving stolen bighorn-sheep heads. He also permanently lost his hunting rights.

Darner, 69, pleaded guilty to the charges last summer, three years after trophy sheep heads stolen from a Montrose taxidermy shop were found in his vehicle. That same year, Darner sold three state-owned elk from his game ranch in New Mexico to another big-game ranch.

Darner was a nationally known big-game hunter and guide and author of hunting books. He held a number of big-game trophies that were later rescinded after it was determined that he had allegedly cheated to win the trophies.

Darner had previous problems with the law. He was convicted of illegal possession of wildlife in 1994. In 1999, he was convicted of tampering with evidence and careless driving after he was accused of trying to run down a wildlife officer who observed one of Darner's hunting clients shoot at an elk decoy in an area where he didn't have a license to hunt.

As part of Darner's most recent sentence, he has agreed never to hunt, fish or possess a firearm anywhere. He also was ordered to pay an as yet undetermined amount of restitution to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the taxidermy business in Montrose where Darner paid a man to steal the sheep heads. Darner currently lives on a ranch in Crawford.

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