Paul Ross Jackson, age 63, of Evergreen, Colorado, pleaded guilty on April 24, 2018, to violating the Endangered Species Act announced U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement (FWS-OLE) Special Agent in Charge Steve Oberholtzer. The defendant was also immediately sentenced to pay the maximum fine of $25,000 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Scott T. Varholak.
According to court documents, including the stipulated facts contained in the defendant’s plea agreement, the defendant violated Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wild Life Act when he shot and killed an African Elephant inside Gonarezhou National Park in the spring of 2015. The defendant, working with a South-Africa based professional hunter, a New-York based export facilitator, and several Zimbabwe-based hunting businesses, gave instructions to have the elephant exported to South Africa, where he hoped to sell in foreign commerce 26 and 27 kilogram ivory tusks. When the government of Zimbabwe initially blocked the defendant’s effort to export the elephant to South Africa, on the ground that the defendant lived in Colorado and not South Africa, the defendant worked with others to try to obtain documentation that he was a resident of South Africa.
In a plea agreement, the defendant agreed to a four-year worldwide hunting ban that prohibits the hunting of any species designated as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The defendant also agreed to work with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to return the ill-gotten ivory to the government of Zimbabwe.
“When American hunters violate the laws of foreign countries in the unethical pursuit of trophies, they don’t just undermine the conservation efforts that make hunting possible. They break the law,” said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. “Our prosecutors, working closely with Fish and Wildlife agents stationed around the globe, are committed to holding poachers accountable so that elephants and other threatened and endangered species can be appreciated by future generations.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to protecting imperiled species around the globe from poaching and trafficking,” said Steve Oberholzer, the Special Agent in Charge of the Mountain-Prairie Region. “When a U.S. citizen unlawfully kills a protected species in another country or attempts to smuggle wildlife products, we work with that nation under our federal statutory authorities to investigate the incident and bring that person to justice. These cooperative law enforcement efforts strengthen and protect America’s borders while ensuring the conservation of cherished wildlife species.”