COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs man who pleaded guilty to several poaching charges in Colorado will likely never hunt in 48 states, including Colorado, ever again.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said Iniki Vike Kapu, 28, was accused of illegally killing 12 deer, 2 turkeys and a bighorn sheep ram across three counties.
Kapu pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wildlife and was fined $900 in Chaffee County in May 2019. He then entered a guilty plea in December 2019 in Teller County. And in February 2020, he pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a bighorn sheep in Fremont County. He also pleaded guilty to illegal possession of three or more big game animals. A few days later, he was fined $4,600 and sentenced to six months in jail and three years supervised probation in Fremont County as part of a plea deal. He also forfeited the weapons he used for poaching.
In the last week of February 2021, CPW hearing examiner Steven Cooley decided to permanently suspend Kapu's hunting privileges.
“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 said. “Iniki Kapu is viewed as a serious threat to Colorado’s wildlife and his violations are among the worst. The severity and level of indifference for wildlife, in this case, are rarely seen and cannot be tolerated.”
Because Colorado is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, Kapu’s lifetime hunting ban extends to the other 47 states that are also members. The two states that are not members are Hawaii and Massachusetts.
Kapu has 35 days to appeal the lifetime suspension to the CPW Commission.
CPW began investigating him after receiving a citizen tip and illegal wildlife killing in October 2018.
Frank McGee, CPW area wildlife manager in Colorado Springs, said this should be a warning to anybody considering poaching in Colorado.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife aggressively pursues anyone who illegally takes wildlife. When you poach, you are stealing from all residents of Colorado," he said. "And your acts are an insult to all the hunters who follow the rules, who buy the licenses that pay for wildlife management, who respect the hunting seasons and abide by principles of fair chase.”
Anybody with information on a possible crime against wildlife is asked to call their local CPW office or report it anonymously to Operation Game Thief by calling 1-877-265-6648 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. cash rewards are available for information on cases involving big game endangered species, turkeys, fishing and small game.
This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer on KMGH in Denver.