Hunter, outfitter guilty in mountain lion poaching | TSLN.com

Hunter, outfitter guilty in mountain lion poaching

A hunter from Pennsylvania and a Wyoming outfitter were both found guilty of knowingly killing a mountain lion without a license.

Edward Mazur of Blakely, Pennsylvania, and his friend Joseph P. Chaya of Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, were on an outfitted elk hunt in Albany County with Timothy Millikin, owner of Millikin Ranch Outfitters, of Glendo.

Mazur said while hunting elk on Oct. 19, 2014, a mountain lion came within 20 yards of him. He asked his guide what he should do, and Millikin told him to shoot the lion.

Mazur killed the lion at approximately 8:30 a.m. He did not possess a mountain lion license at the time.

Millikin instructed Mazur and Chaya on how to proceed after the mountain lion was killed. Mazur and Chaya then drove to Glendo, where Mazur purchased a nonresident mountain lion license at approximately 10:22 a.m.

Timothy Millikin skinned the lion and removed the skull and froze them. Mazur registered the lion at Wyoming Game and Fish Headquarters office in Cheyenne on Oct. 20, signing an oath that it was legally harvested. Mazur and Chaya then transported the mountain lion skin and skull to Pennsylvania.

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On Oct. 21, while working another case out of California, Game Warden Shawn Blajszczak reviewed Mazur's harvest record and became suspicious that the lion had been harvested prior to the purchase of the license. During an interview, Mazur said he saw the lion in the morning while hunting elk, and then drove to Glendo to purchase a license. He initially denied that he killed the lion in the morning hours, stating instead that they returned to where the lion was previously seen and sometime around 3:00 p.m. he found and killed the lion.

All suspects were interviewed individually. They all had similar stories and insisted the lion was taken legally in the afternoon after the license was purchased, although their timelines were all different. After further interviews, Mazur admitted to shooting the lion on the morning of Oct. 19. Mazur and Chaya also confessed that Timothy Millikin told them to lie if questioned by game wardens. Millikin admitted to telling Mazur to kill the lion, skinning it and telling Mazur how to proceed after the poaching.

Mazur was cited with knowingly taking a mountain lion without a license, and fined $5,040 and ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution. His hunting privileges were suspended for five years and he forfeited a Clymer's rifle with an attached Swarovski scope, a firearm valued at more than $5,000. Mazur also received a warning for giving a false statement on a mountain lion registration.

Timothy Millikin was cited for accessory to knowingly taking a mountain lion without a license, fined $5,040 and ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution. Millikin's hunting privileges were suspended for five years and he was given warnings for accessory to giving a false statement on a mountain lion registration and for failure of an outfitter to report a violation.

Joseph Chaya was issued a warning for accessory to knowingly taking a mountain lion without a license and accessory to giving a false statement on a mountain lion registration.

Game Warden Shawn Blajszczak would like to thank the Laramie Region investigator, Game Warden Troy Tobiasson and several other Wyoming and Pennsylvania game wardens for their help with interviews and the overall investigation. Special thanks also go to Kelby Scott with the Albany County District Attorney's Office for his hard work toward a successful prosecution.

–Wyoming Game and Fish Department