According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Iniki Vike Kapu regularly exhibited dangerous behavior that “defines a poacher.” The 28-year-old from Colorado Springs pleaded guilty to numerous poaching crimes in three separate Colorado counties. The CPW accused Kapu of illegally killing 12 deer, two turkeys and a bighorn sheep.
Previously, the hunter pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wildlife, which included big game animals. A Chaffee country court slapped Kapu with a $900 fine in 2019. In 2020, officials ruled that he had to pay another $4,600 fine for offenses in Fremont and Teller counties. Additionally, Kapu had to forfeit his weapons and serve six months in jail with three years’ probation.
After the CPW reviewed Kapu’s violations further, the agency issued a lifetime hunting ban as well. On Monday, CPW hearing examiner Steven Cooley shared details of the agency’s decision in a news release.
“Mr. Kapu’s crimes against wildlife are the essence of what defines a poacher by taking wildlife without regard for the laws protecting them,” Cooley wrote.
“Iniki Kapu is viewed as a serious threat to Colorado’s wildlife and his violations are among the worst,” Cooley added. “The severity and level of indifference for wildlife in this case are rarely seen and cannot be tolerated.”
Colorado Poacher Has 35 Days to Appeal His Lifetime Hunting Suspension
The Colorado hunter’s plea agreements bring a months-long investigation by CPW officers to a close. In fact, the case began with a tip from a concerned citizen.
In October 2018, a citizen came across an abandoned red truck on a secluded road in the Pike National Forest. The truck bed contained a dead deer and spoiling meat. Suspecting the illegal killing of wildlife, the citizen contacted the CPW.
In the state of Colorado, the law requires hunters to prepare all harvested big game for consumption. Abandoning an animal’s meat and instead only removing hides, antlers or heads can earn hunter’s class-five felony charges.
CPW’s Colorado Springs wildlife manager Frank McGee strongly condemned Kapu’s actions in a statement.
“Let this be a warning to anyone out there who is contemplating poaching wildlife in Colorado,” McGee explained. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife aggressively pursues anyone who illegally takes wildlife. When you poach, you are stealing from all residents of Colorado.”
“And your acts are an insult to all the hunters who follow the rules,” he continued. “[Hunters] who buy the licenses that pay for wildlife management, who respect the hunting seasons and abide by principles of fair chase.”
Furthermore, Kapu’s lifetime hunting ban extends to 47 other states. Colorado is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, therefore, his ban is in effect across every state except Hawaii and Massachusetts. The two states are the only non-members of the IWVC.
The poacher declined to take part in the hunting privileges hearing. The agency has given Kapu 35 days to appeal his lifetime hunting ban.