Three Family Members Arrested in Colorado ‘Poaching Ring’

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by rbkomar/Getty Images)

Three men were arrested recently for suspicion of poaching, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. David Schlitt, 64, Robert Schlitt, 36, and Richard Schlitt, 33, were arrested on Oct. 18 in Park County, Colorado.

According to a report from Out There Colorado, David Schlitt’s charges involved a suspected elk poaching. Robert and Richard Schlitt’s charges involved the alleged poaching of an elk and a bear. The arrests came after a search of a home in Colorado Springs and another in Fremont County. Police also seized a vehicle and firearms. They also found “wildlife parts” believed to be beneficial to the investigation. This case is currently still under investigation.

“When you poach an animal, not only is it illegal, but you are stealing from the people of Colorado,” Mark Lamb, CPW’s area wildlife manager for Park County, said in a statement. “We do not tolerate poaching and take these crimes very seriously.”

How Colorado Helps Stop Poaching

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has a program called Operation Game Thief, which has been in operation since 1981. Operation Game Thief is essentially an anonymous tip line where citizens can report poaching. The program pays up to $500 depending on the type of animal involved in the poaching, and may approve rewards of up to $1,000 for extremely heinous cases.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, there are only 122 District Wildlife Managers in the state. Therefore, the department needs the public’s help to report poaching. How the program works is all information reported is evaluated by law enforcement. If the tip leads to an arrest or a citation, the department issues a reward, but only if the reward is requested during the initial call. Parks and Wildlife reports that most callers don’t actually want the reward, they just want to do the right thing.

Operation Game Thief was designed by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and has been adopted by 49 of the 50 states. Since 1981, there have been 2,400 poaching reports in Colorado alone. These tips resulted in over 700 convictions, over $600,000 in fines for offenders, and the seizure of more than 1,300 animals taken illegally.

Why Poaching is Such a Serious Crime

“Poaching is surrounded by romantic myths that just aren’t true,” writes Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Poachers are not poor people trying to feed their families. In fact, putting food on the table is one of the least common motives for poaching. Poachers kill for the thrill of killing, to lash out at wildlife laws, or for profit.”

A similar incident occurred in August that was surrounded by those “romantic myths.” A man in Pennsylvania claimed he couldn’t afford food in “Joe Biden’s America” when he was accused of illegally hunting deer. Paul Yockey of Driftwood, Pennsylvania allegedly fired shots into the air in his backyard to scare away deer that had gathered. When they didn’t leave, he killed them.

According to Yockey, he was just protecting his vegetable garden. He claimed he was on a “fixed income and couldn’t afford to buy food in Joe Biden’s America.”