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UTAH/COLORADO — Christopher W. Loncarich, 55, of Mack, Colorado, pleaded guilty in federal court to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from his sales of outfitting services for illegal mountain lion and bobcat hunts in Colorado and Utah, the Justice Department announced.
According to an indictment returned by the grand jury for the District of Colorado on Jan. 7, 2014, and the plea agreement, Loncarich conspired with others to provide numerous illegal hunts of mountain lions and bobcats in Colorado and Utah from 2007 to 2010. In particular, Loncarich and his confederates trapped, shot and caged mountain lions and bobcats prior to hunts in order to provide easier chases of the cats for clients. Loncarich also admits that he and his assistants guided several hunters that did not possess a Utah mountain lion or bobcat license on mountain lion or bobcat hunts in Utah.
Loncarich's base of operations in Mack, Colorado, is approximately five miles from the Utah-Colorado border. Loncarich sold mountain lion hunts for between $3,500 and $7,500 and bobcat hunts for between $700 and $1,500 and shared a portion of the proceeds from successful hunts with his assistant guides.
Three of Loncarich's assistant guides have previously pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations in connection with their guiding activities with Loncarich. On July 30, 2014, Loncarich's lead assistant guide, Nicholaus J. Rodgers, pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act in connection with his work for Loncarich.
A sentencing hearing for Loncarich is set for Nov. 20, 2014.
The case was investigated by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The successful resolution of this case is the result of the tireless efforts of wildlife law enforcement professionals from the states of Colorado, Utah and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on the behalf of ethical outdoorsmen," states Tony Wood, Law Enforcement Chief with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "We hope this case serves as a deterrent to those intent upon exploiting wildlife populations at the expense of present and future generations of sportsmen."