Colorado man gets 27 months for illegal cougar hunting

A big game hunting outfitter was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for his role in illegal mountain lion and bobcat hunts, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

Christopher Loncarich, 55, was sentenced in a Denver federal court Thursday. He pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from his sale of outfitting services for illegal mountain lion and bobcat hunts in Colorado and Utah.

In August, Loncarich pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to knowingly transport or sell in interstate commerce any wildlife that has been taken or possessed in violation of state laws or regulations.

According to the plea agreement, and an indictment returned by the grand jury for the District of Colorado on Jan. 7, 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 admitted 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.

Four of Loncarich’s assistant guides have previously pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations in connection with their guiding activities with Loncarich.

On July 30, 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.