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CO: Trapper gets 27 months for illegal trapping and killing of bobcats

October 18, 2010

Hartsel man sentenced to 27 months for illegal trapping and killing of bobcats

A Hartsel man has been sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release for illegally trapping and killing bobcats and then selling their pelts to fur buyers in Kansas and Montana.

Jeffrey M. Bodnar, 37, pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

His wife, 46-year-old Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, was sentenced to five years probation. She pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of Lacey Act trafficking and one misdemeanor count of making false statements in violation of the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act is a federal law that makes it illegal to transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of state law or regulation.

Colorado limits bobcat trapping to a specific season and requires trappers to obtain licenses. Colorado also generally prohibits the trapping of bobcats with leghold traps.

Jeffrey Bodnar admitted conspiring with his wife to unlawfully trap and kill bobcats without a license and using prohibited leghold traps.

He also admitted that the bobcat pelts were sold to buyers in Montana and Kansas.

According to prosecutors, the couple received thousands of dollars from the sale of the pelts to buyers. One buyer, however, was an undercover special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On March 6, 2008, prosecutors said the couple sold four bobcat pelts to the undercover agent outside their home for $1,600.

Much of the trapping was done on U.S. Forest Service lands in Park County.

Jeffrey Bodnar was also accused by state authorities of poaching a black bear, an elk, a mountain lion and a pronghorn, according to court documents.

"The Lacey Act has been in place for over 100 years to prevent the kind of interstate trafficking of wildlife and wildlife parts in which these defendants engaged for profit," said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the environment and natural resources division of the U.S. Justice Department.

"This case is an excellent example of how state and federal wildlife agencies work together to protect our nation's natural treasures from commercial plunder."

John Walsh, the U.S. Attorney in Denver, said that prosecutions under the Lacey Act "are essential to protect wildlife from illegal trapping and trafficking wildlife pelts."

During his three years of supervised release, Jeffrey Bodnar will be prohibited from hunting, trapping or fishing.

During her five years of probation, Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, also of Hartsel, will be prohibited from possessing firearms and also prohibited from hunting, trapping or fishing.

Jeffrey Bodnar also pleaded guilty to one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon stemming from his conviction on a state felony charge in 2000.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife.Howard Pankratz: 303-954-1939 or hpankratz@denverpost.com .

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