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CO: Hunting outfitter charged with 10 felonies

August 27, 2010

Meeker hunting outfitter charged with baiting game

A Meeker hunting outfitter was indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiracy and violating the federal Lacey Act, which prohibits the trade or sale of illegally hunted and killed wildlife across state lines.

Dennis Rodebaugh, 69, owner of D&S Guide and Outfitter, and Brian Kunz, 54, of Augusta, Wis., a hunting guide, were both charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and nine counts of interstate sale of unlawfully taken big game, all felonies, according to court records.

They were indicted by a grand jury in U.S. District Court in Denver and are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the environmental crimes section of the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a news release.

The indictment alleges Rodebaugh placed hundreds of pounds of salt as bait for deer and elk, which were shot from tree stands during guided and outfitter summer hunting trips from 2002 to 2007, according to the release.

The placement and use of bait to hunt big game is illegal in Colorado, according to the release.

Both men face 10 felony counts, each of which carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine, according to the release.

The indictment also contains a forfeiture claim against vehicles and equipment used during the alleged Lacey Act violations, according to the release.

The case was investigated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Rodebaugh has operated D&S Guide and Outfitter since 1988, and offers multiple day elk and deer hunts to non-resident clients in the White River National Forest for about $1,200 to $1,600, according to the release.

Kunz worked as a guide for Rodebaugh seasonally since 1997.

"With this year's archery season about to start, this indictment serves as an important reminder that there are criminal consequences for illegal baiting," U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in the release. "Violations of this kind are the theft of a public resource for commercial gain. As we have for many years, this office will continue to vigorously pursue these types of environmental crime cases."

Bill deVergie, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said anti-baiting regulations "promote equal access and fair-chase hunting: baiting is cheating, pure and simple." .

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