| After nearly a year of court proceedings,3rd Judicial Chief Judge Claude Appel sentenced illegal outfitter James Hirschboeck, 53, of Trinidad, to three years confinement within the Department of Corrections, with the possibility of an early release if he pays full restitution within the first year of his sentence.
Hirschboeck’s restitution includes paying damages to out-of-state hunters who registered as plaintiffs.
With the help of the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers arrested Hirschboeck at his home on Oct. 30, 2015. He was charged with 21 counts of providing unregistered outfitting services for big game wildlife, two counts of providing an illegal hunt for big game wildlife for profit, one count of menacing with a deadly weapon, four counts of hunting on private property without permission and one count of unlawfully taking and possessing a 5×6 bull elk.
Hirchboeck pled guilty to two counts of illegal sale or purchase of big game wildlife, class 5 felonies, and one count of illegal possession of wildlife, a misdemeanor. He received his sentence at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2016.
According to CPW investigators, James Hirschboeck was not registered with the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies – the state agency that licenses and regulates outfitting services. However, he allegedly charged hunters nearly $3,000 each for outfitted hunts.
Local wildlife officers received numerous complaints from more than 15 out-of-state hunters and four Las Animas County landowners in 2014 and early 2015 regarding Hirschboeck and his company, Colorado Elk Adventures. CPW officially opened its investigation in February, 2015, and during the 2015 second rifle season, investigators went undercover and booked outfitted hunts with Hirschboeck’s company.
The investigators spent three days under the guise of hunting — documenting evidence, and speaking with the guides and other hunters.
The investigators finished their undercover work on Oct. 20, 2015, and 10 days later made the initial arrest.
“I would hope that both poachers and legal hunters will understand from this judgement that wildlife officers, both uniformed and covert, will be diligent in their efforts to protect our wildlife resource and prosecute those who abuse the privilege to hunt in Colorado,” said district wildlife officer Bob Holder, lead investigator on the case.
Holder added hunters need to be diligent when doing their hunt planning so as to not get taken advantage of, and he encourages hunters if they see anything that looks unscrupulous to report it.
“Our appreciation goes to those hunters, registered outfitters and landowners who had the courage to come forward with their concerns and particularly to the strength and integrity of Judge Appel in his stalwart efforts to protect the legacy of Colorado’s hunting and wildlife heritage.”
Hunters who are interested in making use of an outfitter’s service should ask for a copy of the outfitter’s license and verification of insurance. Hunters can also verify an outfitter’s license and can view or register complaints on the Department Of Regulatory Agencies website: https://www.colorado.gov/dora/licensing/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx.
The Colorado Outfitters Association is also an excellent source of information on reputable outfitters. Their website is: http://www.coloradooutfitters.org.
Any member of the public who suspects illegal hunting activity or crimes against wildlife, should call Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648. Tips can be given anonymously.