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Bobcat Poacher Gets Probation

CDFW game warden Nick Buckler with confiscated bobcat and gray fox skins | Photo: CDFW

A man who pled guilty to illegally trapping and killing dozens of bobcats and gray foxes in Lassen County was fined $5,000 and sentenced to a year's probation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

Tracy Lee Shultz, 57, who lives in the Sacramento County hamlet of Courtland, has been ordered not to hunt, fish, trap, or accompany anyone else on a hunting or fishing trip during the course of his probation. Pelts with a market value of around $15,000 confiscated from Shultz will be sold to support Lassen County conservation activities.

CDFW warden Nick Buckler, who works in Lassen County, started investigating Shultz's activities after a November 2012 tip led him to suspect Shultz was trapping bobcats out of the legal season. During his investigation, Buckler essentially lived outdoors for two and a half months as he documented Shultz's conduct in the field.

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That investigation led to Shultz's arrest in January 2013. As specified by state law, the confiscated pelts' were sold to a legal fur trader; the judge presiding over Shultz's sentencing ordered the $14,835 in proceeds from the sale to be turned over to the Lassen County Fish and Game Commission to be used to fund education and habitat restoration projects.

"Sometimes the smallest bit of information can lead to a large scale investigation," said Buckler. "I feel lucky to live and work in a county that cares so much about its fish, wildlife and habitats. The illegal commercialization of wildlife is second only to the illegal trade in drugs and guns for worldwide revenue. There will always be people willing to break laws and exploit wildlife to make money."

During the course of his investigation, Buckler literally saved the life of an animal that ventured into one of Shultz's traps. Shultz set traps in Lassen County and then went home to Courtland for a week, leaving a spotted skunk in a trap during a period of freezing temperatures. The skunk would surely have frozen to death had Buckler not released it.

In a press statement, CDFW reminded Californians that tips about wildlife law violators can be called in to the agency's 24-hour toll free CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258. You can provide tips anonymously if you wish.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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