After a two-year investigation that involved Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers driving four and a half hours to Oakley, Kansas, a poacher has been brought to justice for illegally killing a bull moose in Teller County, Colorado and then leaving the animal to rot in the woods.   

Oakley resident Steven Samuelson, 33, entered a guilty plea in Teller County District Court on July 10, according to a CPW press release. Charges included felony willful destruction of wildlife, as well as hunting without a proper and valid big game license, aggravated illegal possession of wildlife, failure to prepare wildlife for human consumption, hunting in a careless manner, and illegal take of wildlife, which are all misdemeanors.

Samuelson illegally arrowed the bull moose in September 2021 in a wooded area north of Divide, Colorado, near Pike National Forest. He might have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for the trail cameras that other hunters had hung in the area. The cameras captured photographs of both Samuelson and the moose, and they helped pinpoint the time when the moose was killed.

After seeing these images, the parties reported the crime to CPW and led officers to the dead bull. They found evidence that Samuelson had tried but failed to remove the head. He’d also covered the moose in branches in an effort to hide the crime.

Samuelson illegally arrowed the bull moose in September 2021 in a wooded area north of Divide, Colorado, which lies northwest of Colorado Springs near Pike National Forest. The people who reported the incident to CPW had game cameras hung in the area. These cameras caught both Samuelson and the moose on film. 

When the reporting parties led CPW officers to the location of the moose, they found a large bull that showed evidence of Samuelson’s attempts at removing the head. Samuelson also tried to cover the moose in tree branches to hide the crime.

poached moose covered in tree branches
Samuelson thought he could hide the moose carcass with tree branches. Clearly he didn’t get very far before abandoning the idea. Colorado Parks and Wildlife

“This moose was treated unethically and that is something we take very seriously,” said CPW officer and assistant area wildlife manager Travis Sauder. “We are fortunate members of the public share our passion for wildlife and helped us catch the poacher. We rely on honest sportspeople to help us solve these types of cases.”

Finding Samuelson was less easy. Officers used what CPW calls “old-fashioned police work” to eventually track him down. In coordination with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, two CPW officers drove to Kansas to confront Samuelson at his workplace. They also executed a search warrant on his home. They seized his bow, his cell phone, and other belongings thought to contain evidence. 

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For the felony charge, Samuelson received a two-year deferred jail sentence. That means he won’t have to serve the sentence if he meets all the terms of his plea agreement. He also has to pay a $20,000 fine and lost 65 points against his hunting license. Only 20 points were necessary to suspend his hunting privileges, which means he’s now 45 points in the hole.