Colorado Couple Sentenced in Bobcat Poaching Scheme

Husband gets 27 months in prison, three years supervised release

Mike Potter
Staff Writer

The Hartsel couple that pleaded guilty in June to the illegal trapping and sale of bobcats were sentenced on Oct. 18 in Denver Federal Court.

Jeffery M. Bodnar, 37, was sentenced to 27 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to one count of felony conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and one felony count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Veronica Anderson-Bodnar, 46, was sentenced to five years of probation after pleading guilty to one misdemeanor count of Lacey Act trafficking and one misdemeanor count of making false statements in violation of the Lacey Act.

The Lacey Act of 1900 is a conservation act that protects plants and wildlife.

According to an Oct. 18 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, it is a federal law that makes it illegal to transport or sell any wildlife taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of a state law or regulation.

The couple pleaded guilty on June 2 after being indicted on the charges on Oct. 19, 2009 after an investigation that involved the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Justice

According to the indictment, Bodnar trapped and killed bobcats before, during and after the legal bobcat hunting season at different locations in and around Park County, including U.S. Forest Service property. He did so without a valid license, used illegal leghold traps and then killed the animals while they were trapped.

Anderson-Bodnar then took the bobcat pelts to the Colorado Division of Wildlife office to be tagged, and provided false information about the collection of the animal.

Colorado Division of Wildlife District Manager Ron Zaccagnini previously told The Flume that he estimated that more than 100 bobcats were harvested illegally by the couple.

According to an Oct. 20, 2009, news release from the U.S. Department of Justice announcing the indictment, “from November 2006 until March 2008, Bodnar and Anderson-Bodnar conspired to knowingly transport and sell bobcat[s] and bobcat pelts in interstate commerce that were unlawfully trapped and killed without a license and using prohibited leghold traps in violation of state law. The two also conspired to knowingly submit false records and accounts of how the bobcats were trapped for tagging by Colorado wildlife officials.

Zaccagnini said previously that the DOW first became aware of the illegal activities when it started receiving reports of abandoned traps around Park County.

“Sometimes they had a dead animal or whatever was left,” he said.

Some of the animal carcasses had been left for months and some traps held only bones.

“We had some people that were concerned enough to tell us what they knew,” Zaccagnini said.

But a big break came when Zaccagnini witnessed Bodnar commit an alleged burglary, which helped DOW officials obtain a search warrant.

Officers seized a number of items used to trap animals, as well as an ATV and snowmobile that investigators believed Bodnar used to collect the trapped animals.

When officers executed an arrest warrant, Bodnar took off into the woods, triggering a two-day pursuit.

bigcatrescue.org

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