Judge sentences men for poaching black bear

Officer says hunters removed all four of the bears' paws as souvenirs

By Real Aspen
Real AspenOctober 16, 2012
Two men from Tennessee were sentenced in Garfield County Court earlier this month for their role in a felony, bear poaching incident in August.

Harley Boss Manley, 51, of Martin, Tenn., pleaded guilty to a charge of killing a black bear before Sept. 1, which marks the start of the bear hunting season each fall. He was given a mandatory five-year suspension of his hunting privileges, a two-year deferred prison sentence for felony willful destruction, forfeit his bow, ordered to pay a fine of $4,000 and donate $6,000 to Operation Game Thief, a Colorado tip line for wildlife infractions. In addition, the Garfield County judge ordered that Manley be placed under supervised probation.

A file photo of a Colorado black bear.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife

David Ronnie Coleman, 62, of Union City, Tenn., also pleaded guilty to killing a black bear before Sept. 1, and received a mandatory five-year suspension of his hunting privileges. He was fined $3,000 and ordered to donate $4,000 to OGT.

In exchange for their guilty pleas, the judge dropped additional felony charges of tampering with evidence and other misdemeanor charges against both men.

"This was a serious offense these two men committed," said Perry Will, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Glenwood Springs. "It took considerable man-hours and investigation to bring them to justice and my officer is to be commended for his excellent work in this case."

On Aug. 28, District Wildlife Manager Dan Cacho learned of a possible wildlife violation in the Dolan Gulch area of the White River National Forest, north of Glenwood Springs.

At the site, Cacho discovered evidence that a large animal had been killed in the area, leading him to investigate a nearby camp where he discovered further evidence of a recent kill, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife. No one was in the camp at the time of his initial visit.

The following day, he made contact with a hunting party at the same camp. After further investigation of the campsite and extensive interviews with the men at the camp, including Coleman, he discovered additional evidence and information that an illegal hunt had possibly occurred.

Later that day, Cacho located Manley hunting at the same watering hole where Cacho suspected the animal had been killed. During questioning, state officials say Manley eventually confessed that he had illegally shot a female bear with his bow earlier in the week and with Coleman's help, disposed of the carcass by throwing it off a nearby cliff.

Upon finding the carcass, Cacho discovered that all four of the bears' paws had been removed and were later found in possession of the suspects.

"Manley expressed remorse for illegally killing the bear, and claimed that he 'regretted it immediately'," said Cacho. "However, hunters should always be responsible and ethical, and a lapse in judgment like this is very serious as the fines and sentences in this case indicate."

Cacho says that he and his fellow wildlife officers investigate all violations thoroughly.

"Poachers are criminals that steal wildlife from the citizens of Colorado, and take opportunities away from legitimate hunters," Cacho said. "The public's help is critical to stop them, and we encourage anyone with information about poaching or other wildlife violations to contact authorities immediately."


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