Jeff Bodnar at a trap site out of season. (Courtesy photo)

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife investigation into illegal hunting and trapping activities led to a felony conviction of a Park County man, thanks to the persistence of wildlife officers.

Jeff Bodnar, 46, of Hartsel, Colo., was arrested and charged with 22 crimes stemming from the investigation. Bodnar later pled guilty May 7 to possession of a weapon by a previous offender, a class six felony, and unlawful possession of two black bears and a mountain lion.

Bodnar was fined $4,593.50 and sentenced to 10 days in jail, which has been suspended pending successful completion of probation.

At its June meeting, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a lifetime suspension of Bodnar’s hunting, fishing and trapping privileges in Colorado and the other 48 states in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

With the lifetime suspension, he will face fines ranging between $1,000 and 10,000 and up to 90 days in jail if he is detected in any hunting, fishing or trapping activity in the future.

Bodnar’s hunting, fishing and trapping privileges have been suspended twice previously.

“Bodnar appears to possess a complete disregard for Colorado’s hunting laws and a total indifference for wildlife,” said wildlife officer Ian Petkash.

“We take these investigations seriously because of the toll someone like this can take on local wildlife populations.

“The illegal exploitation of wildlife will not be tolerated, and we will continue to aggressively investigate wildlife crimes in this state. It is important to note that these types of actions are those of a poacher, not a hunter, and it is good to bring somebody like this to justice.”

Wildlife officers have investigated reports of illegal hunting and trapping activity by Bodnar for years. In 2008, he was convicted in federal court of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, a federal felony for attempting to sell illegally-taken bobcats across state lines. He received 27 months in federal prison for the 2008 case.

The most recent investigation broke in 2014 when a report was received that Bodnar had resumed hunting and trapping while under his suspension. Wildlife officers initiated a multi-year investigation that culminated in the execution of arrest and search warrants.

“At the end of the day, without the cooperation and support of local prosecutors, the hard work that wildlife officers do to bring poachers to justice would go unanswered,” Petkash said.

“District Attorney Molly Chilson was very supportive during this investigation. This sends a clear message that wildlife crimes are not going to be tolerated in Park County and that the district attorney’s office is working with CPW to protect wildlife and the interests of legal sportsmen and -women of Colorado.”

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