4 Michigan men charged in undercover wildlife investigation

Men accuses of illegal trapping, animal cruelty

DETROIT – Four men from Michigan are facing charges after a 12-month undercover investigation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In a release Tuesday, the Michigan DNR said three men from Prescott, 64-year-old Jerome Thorson and his sons, Ole Thorson, 35, and Travis Thorson, 40, had been charged with illegally taking wildlife. A fourth man, Todd Osier, 41, of Standish, is charged with a single count of cruelty to animals.

In addition to the Michigan charges, the defendants face separate charges in Colorado. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife jointly participated in the investigation.

Jerome Thorson faces 23 separate counts on charges that include importation of illegally taken game from another state; capturing whitetail deer from the wild; building and maintaining an illegal deer enclosure without a permit; illegal taking of otter, bobcat and mink; illegal trapping; possession of an illegal silencer; and animal cruelty to horses. Ole Thorson has been charged with importing elk illegally taken in another state and possession of an illegally taken pine marten. Travis Thorson faces one count of cruelty to animals.

Each Michigan wildlife charge is a misdemeanor with a possibility of 90 days in jail. Fines and restitution range from $100 to $1,000 on each charge. Several of the charges require mandatory hunting license revocation upon conviction.  The illegal possession of a silencer is a felony with the possibility of five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.  The felony animal cruelty charges have fines up to $5,000 and the possibility of four years in prison.

In Colorado, the Thorsons, Osier and three accomplices face a total of 48 charges stemming from the illegal killing and possession of several trophy-class elk, black bear and bobcat over several years in the King Mountain area of Routt County.  In addition to the misdemeanor violations, Ole Thorson is charged with felony willful destruction of wildlife and forgery.  Travis Thorson has already been arraigned in Colorado on multiple felony menacing charges related to his 2011 hunt. 

Colorado law allows for enhanced fines and jail time in instances where either trophy big game animals or multiple big game animals are taken.  If convicted, Ole Thorson faces more than a year in prison, more than $90,000 in fines and a lifetime suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges in Michigan, Colorado and 35 other states that participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. Each of the other defendants faces in excess of $10,000 in fines and lengthy suspensions of their hunting and fishing privileges.

The hunting public in Michigan is reminded to report any illegal hunting and fishing activities to the 24-hour Report All Poaching (RAP) Hotline at 1-800-292-7800.