Just because you know your stuff and are an expert hunter or guide doesn’t mean that you are above the law. That is a message that rang out loud and clear for Nicholaus Rodgers and should serve as fair warning to other people who might consider breaking game laws, regardless of their positions.
In a March 11, 2019 news release, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service reported that Mr. Rodgers has been sentenced to spend six months in confinement at home, must pay a $5,000 fine, perform 50 hours of community service and will have three years of probation for wildlife law violations. During his probationary period Rodgers will not be allowed to hunt or fish.
Some people might feel that this isn’t harsh enough and that he should have been sentenced to the maximum that is allowable, while probably a smaller number of others will probably believe that it is too harsh and that he has been over-sentenced, because Rodgers had worked as an assistant hunting guide, so the hunting was directly tied to how he made a living. Rodgers, who lives in Medford, Oregon, was employed at the time of the incident by Loncarich Guides and Outfitters. Loncarich, the owner of the company, had already been indicted of the crimes. Other guides for this company have already plead guilty to charges of conspiracy and have been sentenced, too.
The violations occurred between 2007 and 2010 and the investigation began three years earlier. The men were alleged to have trapped bobcats and cougars, shooting some animals in the paws, legs, stomachs and using leg traps on others, all for the purpose of making it easier for paying clients have a chance to kill one of the cats. Naturally, many legitimate hunters and conservationists are quite upset about the inhumane treatment of the wildcats.
The investigation was carried out by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Colorado department of Parks and Wildlife and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The area where the crime was committed was the mountainous region straddling the Colorado and Utah border.
The Grand Jury indictment was for 17 counts and specified that 30 bobcats and cougars were illegally killed, though there is evidence that there may have been more animals involved. The dead animals were also transported across state boundaries and a number of the paying clients didn’t have tags or licenses as required by law and which the company was responsible for obtaining.
Loncarich, who lived in Mack, Colorado, was sentenced already in Denver, in November, 2014. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison, plus three years of probation. His two daughters, Andie and Caitlin, and another assistant guide, Marvin Ellis, have already been sentenced as well, and between the three, were ordered to pay $4,600. Additionally, Loncarich’s pickup and Ellis’ pickup were also confiscated since they were used during the crimes.
It doesn’t end with these people, either. Fish and Wildlife reports that three clients have also been charged with federal violation of the Lacey Act and will have to cough up $13,100 in fines.
The violations are related to the Lacey Act, which has been in place for over a century. This federal law covers all wild animals, fish and plants. Violation of the Lacey Act is a felony offense.
It is sickening when greed becomes so great that laws that were designed to protect wildlife are blatantly disregarded. Inhumane and cruel treatment is something that responsible hunters throughout the country refuse to take part in. Thankfully, this is one case where the violators were caught and sentenced.