COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Colorado Springs man has pleaded guilty to poaching charges in three different southern Colorado counties, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
CPW said Iniki Kapu, 27, was accused of illegally killing a total of 12 deer, two turkeys, and a bighorn sheep ram.
Kapu pled guilty in May to illegal possession of wildlife in Chaffee County, according to CPW. He was ordered to pay a $900 fine in that case.
On Tuesday, Kapu pled guilty to poaching charges in Teller and Fremont counties, according to CPW. He was fined a total of $4,600 and sentenced to six months in jail, along with three years of supervised probation.
CPW released the following details about the cases:
Kapu’s plea agreements cap an investigation by CPW officers started by a citizen tip about illegal killing of wildlife in October 2018 linked to a red truck found stuck and abandoned on a remote road in the Pike National Forest. It had a dead deer in the back and the meat was spoiled.
CPW officers Tim Kroening and Philip Gurule, plus a U.S. Forest Service officer, investigated and discovered a dead doe in the truck bed. It had not been properly processed after it was killed with a bow and arrow, causing its meat to spoil. They also discovered the license plates on the red truck were stolen and there was no carcass tag on the deer, which is required on a legally harvested animal.
The officers searched the red truck and found a Colorado fishing license inside belonging to Kapu, linking him to the truck. When they checked the CPW database, they learned Kapu did not have a valid hunting license, indicating the deer was poached.
A canvas of area landowners led Kroening and Gurule to a rancher who recognized the truck and directed them to a site in the forest where Kapu and a woman were camping in a trailer.
At the campsite, officers found evidence of poaching including deer hair, a turkey head, burned arrows, knives with blood and deer hair on them and rubber gloves with trace evidence.
In December 2018, as the Teller County investigation continued, Kapu was stopped in Chaffee County by a Forest Service officer who noticed a loaded firearm in his vehicle. Kapu fled, triggering a chase. He was captured when he wrecked his truck – the same red truck that had been stuck on the remote Teller County road.
Animal quarters were found when the truck wrecked. CPW Officer Kim Woodruff interviewed Kapu in jail and he claimed the quarters were from a roadkill deer he picked up in Teller County. CPW Officer Kroening later determined Kapu had no roadkill permit for the deer from Teller County, making it an illegal possession of wildlife. Kapu later pleaded guilty to illegal possession of wildlife and reckless driving for that incident.
On Feb. 4, 2019, a Fremont County resident reported a suspicious trailer and camp on BLM land. Officers arrived to find six deer heads, a ¾-curl bighorn sheep head and several quarters of meat outside the trailer, which turned out to be Kapu’s trailer from Teller County.
Ultimately, CPW officers executed search warrants and found ammunition, weapons including a rifle, bow, knives and other evidence linking Kapu to the poaching.
On Feb. 15, 2019, CPW executed a search warrant and two arrest warrants at a Colorado Springs house where surveillance had revealed Kapu was staying. Working with Colorado Springs Police, CPW officers arrested Kapu. A search produced spoiled game meat and other evidence that DNA analysis linked to the poached bighorn sheep ram.
Officers later obtained photos from social media of Kapu posing with poached deer, poached turkeys and a bow.