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Undercover Fort Collins game warden accuses Loveland man of poaching, eating bear, illegal weapon possession

11:48 AM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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Paul Detwiler, 28, is also facing six felony counts of illegal possession of a firearm; as a previously convicted felon, he's not allowed to have guns. He was arrested following an undercover investigation by state game wardens based in Fort Collins.

Warden Robert Pope said he and Detwiler went hunting several times late last year, trips on which Detwiler boasted of killing a 200-pound black bear near Weston, shooting six deer in a week, and killing three pronghorn despite having a license to kill only one.

Court documents show Pope brought Detwiler and his family Wendy's cheeseburgers and exchanged multiple text messages over several weeks. Pope also swore in an arrest affidavit that Detwiler was able to illegally purchase an AR-15 rifle from a Loveland pawn shop despite his felony conviction. Pope also documented Detwilder hunting geese with illegal lead shot.

In the terse language of an arrest warrant, Division of Parks and Wildlife officers laid out some of the evidence.

"Detwiler told Pope the following: That Detwiler killed a bear in Weston, Colorado off the back porch of a house ... that he shot the bear in the face with a 12-gauge and twice more as the bear ran away... that he skinned the bear and ... took the back straps and one quarter and threw the rest of the meat away to rot," the arrest affidavit says. "Detwiler said he shot six nice bucks in one week in the Keenesberg area... (and) said that last year he bought one pronghorn license and shot three pronghorn on the license. He said he ate them in three months and never did see a game warden."

State law limits hunters to one buck pronghorn a season. It also requires that anyone who kills a bear for sport or food must have a permit and report it to wildlife officials, who then affix a permanent tag to the hide. And any bear meat must legally be prepared properly for human consumption. The undercover warden visited Detwiler's home several times, secretly documenting rifles and illegal traps.

"Pope asked Detwiler if he had permission from the landowner to trap," the arrest affadaivit said. "Detwiler told Pope that Detwiler did not know who the landowner was and did not have permission to trap. Detwiler said 'they won't care.'"

Detwiler appeared briefly in court Tuesday morning to be advised of the possible charges against him. He's free on bond and does not yet have an attorney.

In 2003, Detwiler pleaded guilty to felony menacing. He's due back in court Feb. 5.

A Division of Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman declined to comment on the case.

(Copyright © 2013 Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)

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