Wyo. teen first poaching felon

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 2:14 PM

Christine Peterson

WORLAND, Wyo. --Teenager Colton Lapp is the first person in Wyoming under state law to become a felon for poaching.

Lapp, 19, of Worland,pleaded guilty Monday to three felony poaching counts of killing antlered deer out of season. The plea agreement calls for him to give up his hunting and fishing privileges for life in Wyoming and 37 other states. The sentencing recommendation is for a boot camp program for the first count and probation for the other two.

If he does not successfully complete the boot camp program or probation, he could face up to two years in prison for each of the three counts, said Marcia Bean, deputy Hot Springs County prosecutor.

"I think this is the exact case of why we pursued this legislation," said Scott Werbelow, game warden supervisor in the Cody region who has dealt with parts of the Lapp case.

"He literally went out and poached five more deer within a couple of days after his previous conviction of a couple of other deer."

In November 2010, Lapp shot and killed a large buck south of Worland. While officials served a search warrant, they found a second deer carcass. He was found guilty for the first crime in April and the second as an accessory in December, Werbelow said.

Sometime between his conviction on Dec. 19 and Dec. 28, he allegedly shot another five deer, Werbelow said.

Lapp was charged with five counts of felony poaching and pleaded guilty to three.

Because of the previous two convictions, Lapp fell under legislation passed in 2011 that meant prosecutors could charge offenders with a felony.

"I think that it is rare for folks to end up in prison for wildlife violations, and I think this sets the precedent that we take wildlife in Wyoming very seriously for chronic poachers," Werbelow said.

Prosecutors in two different counties are seeking to revoke his probation from earlier offenses. He is currently free on bond.

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