Drill rig worker gets $10,000 fine for poaching a prize deer
garfield county correspondent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” An oil and gas drill rig worker was sentenced Thursday to a $10,000 fine and four years probation for poaching a trophy buck deer.
Joseph Chapman, 32, also received a lifetime suspension of his hunting privileges in Colorado.
Judge Denise Lynch handed down the sentence after hearing arguments from attorneys and a Colorado Division of Wildlife official (CDOW).
“You chopped its head off and left it to rot,” Lynch said. She added that the animal was said to benefit the community and the species’ genetic pool.
Public Defender Garth McCarty argued against the fine, saying it would be “devastating” to Chapman’s family and his seven children. He asked the court not to use Chapman’s case as an example or message to others.
Deputy District Attorney Amy Fitch said the fine should be imposed as a deterrent, and to effect the will of the legislature. The “Samson” law calling for a $10,000 fine for poaching a prize animal was created after a magnificent bull elk known by that name was illegally killed in Estes Park in 1996.
Richard Antonio Jr., of CDOW, called the deer a “once in a lifetime kind of animal.”
“The animal was shot, the head cut off and the carcass was buried,” Antonio said.
“That meat could have fed a lot of people for a long time. … I think we need to send the right message to the oil field folks that moved into our community,” Antonio said, recommending the $10,000 fine.
Chapman was said to have become “somehow obsessed” with the animal and had numerous pictures of it alive and after it was killed.
Chapman previously pleaded guilty to willful destruction of wildlife in February as part of a plea agreement. Someone tipped CDOW that on Thanksgiving last year, Chapman had shot a buck frequently seen near the rig he was working on seven miles north of Parachute on Garfield County Road 215.
Chapman apologized before being sentenced.
“It’s a mistake,” he said. “I’m ashamed of it.”
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