A Rapid City man accused of illegally hunting mountain lions by baiting them with dead deer has pleaded guilty to multiple charges.
William Colson VI, 39, pleaded guilty Dec. 15 to conspiracy to unlawfully possess a big-game animal, aiding and abetting prohibited hunting, as well as two counts of aiding and abetting unlawful possession of a big game animal, according to court records.
Each offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail, a fine of $2,000 or both.
Colson was initially charged in February along with fellow Rapid City resident Mason Hamm, for several misdemeanor hunting violations. Colson pleaded guilty under a deal with prosecutors; Hamm’s case is still ongoing.
According to South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks authorities, the men placed five dead deer at Spring Creek Canyon, in southwestern Rapid City, to lure mountain lions between December 2015 and January 2016. The area is behind Colson’s residence.
Before the end of that January, Hamm had allegedly killed a mountain lion whose blood matched blood found near the dead deer.
It is against South Dakota law to bait mountain lions, as well as to collect, possess and transport dead deer without permission from the GF&P.
Colson, in a related Pennington County case, pleaded guilty also to five counts of unlawful possession of big game animal. The offenses, according to Colson's charging documents, involve the possession of two mountain lions and three whitetail deer between January 2014 and October 2015.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on both cases in February. Hamm, 21, is set to return to court for another hearing on the same month. Both men are free on bond.