A poaching investigation north of Woodland Park leads to the arrest of two men who were also involved in an illegal grow operation.
In January, a resident living in Ridgewood, a small community about six miles north of Woodland Park walked outside their home to find a large blood stain in the snow with tire tracks and footprints in their driveway. Colorado Parks and Wildlife was called out to investigate.
The two men in charge of the investigation are Cody Wigner and Tim Kroening, both District Wildlife managers. While investigating, Kroening says they found crossbow bolts at the scene, "We found arrows in the ground with blood on them." He says they believe those were used to kill and torture the animal.
The investigators also found trash left by the poachers, which lead to a break in the case. Empty beer bottles, cigarette butts, and an empty bag of potato chips. After taking a closer look, Kroening says they found a receipt in the discarded bag for those items that were purchased at a Colorado Springs gas station.
Parks and Wildlife then went to the Loaf 'N Jug located on Astrozon and Chelton where they obtained surveillance video of the suspects walking into the gas station buying the same chips that were found at the scene. They also discovered what car they driving, but it didn't have any license plates meaning they could not get an address. That's when Wigner listened to his gut, "We figured that they probably live nearby so I started driving around the neighborhoods," Wigner says, "It took about an hour and ended up finding that truck."
After finding the house and getting a search warrant, officers found the remains of the deer they killed hanging in the suspect's garage. "There were still pools of blood where they had the deer hanging," Wigner says, "there were deer antlers in the backyard that they gave to their dogs as chew toys."
They also found the crossbow used to kill the deer but that's not all. The poachers were also manufacturing marijuana concentrates inside the house. Kroening says it's not uncommon for poachers to be involved in other crime, "If someone is poaching wildlife, they are also going to be involved in something else."
The two men have been identified as Yevgeniy Bikrev and Nicholas Stewart. Bikrev, plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of illegal possession of wildlife, hunting on private property without permission and hunting out of season. He was also was charged with having fake license plates, two counts of manufacturing marijuana concentrate and possessing marijuana concentrate with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell or distribute.