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article imageCo. outfitter admits to maiming wild cats to make hunting easier

By Megan Hamilton     Aug 18, 2014 in Crime
Mack - A Colorado hunting outfitter who is accused of allegedly injuring mountain lions and bobcats so that his clients could kill them more easily had his day in a U.S. court last Friday.
Christopher Loncarich, 55, of Mack, Colorado pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiring to break a federal wildlife law, prosecutors said, according to Reuters.
Loncarich, who struck a plea agreement with federal attorneys, admitted to conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, which is a federal law that bans interstate commerce in wildlife that has been killed illegally, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
To secure the plea deal, Loncarich admitted he was the leader of a ring of professional hunters who shot, trapped, and caged the wild cats to provide phony fair chase hunts to clients in Colorado and Utah between 2007 and 2010, prosecutors said in a statement, per Reuters.
Hunting packages offered by Loncarich's outfitters ranged between $3,500 and $7,500 for mountain lions. Prices for hunting bobcats ranged between $700 and $1500.
Nicholaus Rodgers, of Shady Cove, Oregon, Loncarich's lead hunting guide, also pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement last month to one count of conspiring to violate the Lacey Act because of his role in the illegal hunts, per Reuters.
The men led hunts near the Utah border around the Book Cliffs Mountains. They were accused of sometimes capturing the cats in Utah and bringing them back into Colorado, according to CBS News.
Loncarich and Rodgers face up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
According to the DOJ, under the terms of the plea agreement, the prosecution has agreed to a sentencing calculation but didn't agree on imprisonment terms, or on the amount of fines or restitution.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources investigated the case, the DOJ reports. Sentencing for Loncarich is set for Nov. 20, 2014.
More about Mountain lion, Bobcat, Colorado, united states department of justice, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
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