Texas, Colorado game wardens work together to convict Nacogdoches County man in ‘major’ poaching case

Texas, Colorado game wardens work together to convict Nacogdoches County man in ‘major’ poaching case
Raymond Muse of Chireno isn’t commenting on the case. His December guilty plea to willful destruction of wildlife in Colorado led to a uncommon $53,000 fine, in addition to a two years of supervised probation and a court-ordered suspension of all hunting, fishing and trapping related activities.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Nabbing poachers is Texas game warden Randy Stovall’s job. In Nacogdoches County, he never anticipated a hunting conviction in Colorado would lead him to what could be an investigation of a lifetime.

“This has been a huge case. I've been working for eleven years. This is probably going to be the biggest case I'll ever work," said Stovall.

The $53,000 fine Raymond Muse is required to pay is just part of the case's uniqueness.

The investigation began in Evergreen, Colorado where trophy-size elk wander into residential backyards says Colorado game warden, Officer Scott Murdoch.

"Most of the evidence was in Colorado, however, the interview evidence was all pretty much gathered in Texas," said Murdoch.

Wildlife officers suspected a poacher in the area since 2013. They got a break in September of 2018 when an observant landowner tipped off authorities.

According to officers, Muse was using a bicycle to reach a location to where hunting equipment was stashed. Investigators say Muse was sneaking onto private properties to poach trophy wildlife.

Still, the missing links were in Texas.

"What we were able to do was contact friends and family that had knowledge,” said Stovall. “Not that they were involved in the case, but they had knowledge or pictures that showed the illegal activity."

Other evidence was obtained off Muse's own cell phone.

"It had pictures over the last several years that showed the illegal activity that he was doing in Colorado," said Stovall.

Officer Murdoch said, "Without their help in doing interviews as well as doing search warrants we wouldn't be able to gather all the information that we really needed."

In December, Muse, 50, pleaded guilty to willful destruction of wildlife and received a deferred judgment and sentence on that felony charge. Additionally, Muse pleaded guilty to 11 misdemeanor charges, including illegal possession of wildlife and hunting without a license.

Murdoch said, “This is the action of a poacher, not a hunter.”

Raymond Muse allowed his phone number to be shared with the East Texas News. In a call placed to him, Muse said at this time he does not want to comment on the case.

A hearing is still pending to decide the length of time that Muse's hunting and fishing privileges could be suspended, perhaps a lifetime and nationwide.

Murdoch said, “This is the action of a poacher, not a hunter.”

The large fine is approximately equivalent to what hunters would pay for several trophy wildlife hunts.

Muse is on two-year probation and restricted from hunting activities during that time, plus the large fine.

The Nacogdoches County probation office has received a request to supervise Muse’s probation. Probation officer Ty McCarty says a decision will be made once the formal request and paperwork is submitted by Colorado authorities. Also, a preliminary investigation by the probation department will be conducted.

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