WASHINGTON Officials with the Justice Department have filed a 17-count indictment against Christopher W. Lonarich and Nicholaus J. Rodgers for numerous hunting violations.
They were charged on Tuesday with conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, interstate felony transportation and sale of unlawfully taken wildlife, and felony creation of false records concerning wildlife that was sold in interstate commerce, among other charges.
The indictment was based on the pair's practice of illegally capturing and maiming mountain lions and bobcats as part of a scheme to make hunting the cats easier for their clients between 2007-2010.
Allegations include that Mr. Loncarich and his assistant guides devised a scheme whereby they would trap the cats in cages prior to hunts and release the cats when the client was nearby. Mr. Loncarich, Mr. Rodgers, and other guides would use radios to communicate, ensuring that they took their clients to the correct location where the cats were released.
In order to keep the cats in the correct areas, Mr. Loncarich and other guides would allegedly shoot them in the paw or legs, or even attach leghold traps to them.
Many of the clients they guided also did not have proper tags or licenses to take mountain lions or bobcats back in Utah. Allegedly, Mr. Loncarich would take clients to 'check in' the illegally taken cats with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now 'Colorado Parks and Wildlife') where he would use false records to obtain seals for the hides.
To date, four assistant guides have pleaded guilty to offenses arising from the conspiracy.
The case is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.