SALT LAKE CITY — An outfitter accused of capturing and maiming mountain lions and bobcats in Utah for illegal hunts pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge, the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.
Christopher W. Loncarich, 55, conspired to provide the illegal hunts from 2007 to 2010 in violation of the Lacey Act, which prohibits the illegal import and interstate transport of wildlife, according to court documents. His business is based near the Utah-Colorado border in Mack, Colorado.
“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,” according to a release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
“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.”
He charged his clients between $3,500 and $7,500 for mountain lion hunts and $700 and $1,500 for bobcat hunts, according to the DWR. They said four of his assistant guides, who he shared the money with, already pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations.
Loncarich has a sentencing hearing set for Nov. 20 and could face a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison, the Associated Press reported.
"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,” the law enforcement chief with the Utah DWR said in a statement.