Two Florida hunters who illegally killed mule deer and pronghorns will probably never hunt in Colorado again.
The two men pleaded guilty in 2018 in a poaching operation that killed at least three mule deer and six pronghorn in Elbert and Lincoln counties. They were in Colorado while working in the energy industry.
Timothy C. Draper, 33, of Bunnell, Florida, received a 20-year suspension in Lincoln County Court for a misdemeanor charge of illegally possessing three or more big game animals.
He was sentenced to two years supervised probation and was ordered to surrender all weapons and equipment used in his crime. He also paid a $2,100 game penalty and $4,213 in fines and court costs.
Lawrence J. Cowart, 30, also of Bunnell, Florida, received a lifetime ban for willful destruction of wildlife, a class 5 felony.
Cowart was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to surrender all his firearms and equipment used in the crime. He paid $2,440 in fines and court costs. Draper and Cowart also surrendered the trophy heads of the illegally harvested deer and pronghorn.
CPW Commission hearing examiner Steven Cooley had some tough words for the two poacher, according to a news release from Bill Vogrin, public information officer for CPW’s southeast region.
“Lawrence Cowart’s crimes against Colorado’s wildlife were committed intentionally and with complete disregard,” Cooley wrote in his findings. “Mr. Cowart has a history of violating wildlife laws in his home state of Florida and in North Carolina. His most recent wildlife violations in Colorado are considered among the most serious of criminal activity against wildlife, where an animal is killed for its trophy parts and the meat is abandoned to waste.
“Given his history and escalating criminal behavior, Mr. Cowart is viewed as a threat to Colorado’s wildlife. Although he expressed remorse during his suspension hearing, his repeated criminal actions against wildlife do not reflect this.”
Cooley was equally unmoved by Draper’s claim that his involvement was minimal compared to Cowart. He noted Draper “expressed little remorse, or accountability, for his actions.”
“Timothy Draper has repeatedly demonstrated a deliberate lack of regard for Colorado’s wildlife,” Cooley wrote. “His actions are not viewed as hunting, but rather as outright poaching, done without any valid license, or outside established hunting seasons.
The suspensions end a poaching case triggered by a tip to CPW’s poaching hotline Operation Game Thief.
CPW officers Ben Meier and Logan Wilkins investigated Cowart and Draper, who were in Colorado working in the energy industry. CPW evidence showed the two men killed deer and pronghorn – decapitating some and leaving their torsos – and shipped their heads to a taxidermist in Florida.
CPW worked with Colorado Springs Police Department, the Limon Police Department and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office in the case.
Anyone who has information about a possible crime against wildlife is encouraged to call CPW or report it anonymously to Operation Game Thief at 1-877-COLO-OGT or 877-265-6648 or email CPW at email@example.com.
A $500 reward is offered in cases involving big game or endangered species, $250 for turkey cases, and $100 for fishing and small game cases.
The reward fund is maintained by private contributions.