Man Could Lose Hunting Privileges for 54 Years if Convicted of Shooting Deer

Man Could Lose Hunting Privileges for 54 Years if Convicted of Shooting Deer

ROCK SPRINGS — A Green River man may lose his hunting privileges for the rest of his life if found guilty of the nine misdemeanor charges he faces.

Timothy Lee Crooks, 66, is charged with five counts of wanton destruction of a big game animal and four counts of use of a silencer to take a big or trophy game animal. Both charges have the same penalty, up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000, but each charge also carries an additional potential penalty of losing hunting privileges for up to six years. The maximum penalty Crooks faces is nine years imprisonment with a $90,000 fine and the loss of his hunting privileges for 54 years.

Crooks attended his circuit court arraignment Monday afternoon, where his bond was set at $5,000 cash or surety, with the added provision that he does not possess deadly weapons or firearms. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has been released from the Sweetwater County Detention Center.

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According to court documents, the allegations date back to August 2018 when Wyoming Game and Fish Department game wardens were called to Arkansas Drive in Green River to investigate dead deer that had been shot with a small caliber firearm. During one incident, witnesses reported hearing multiple shots from a small caliber rifle at about 6:15 a.m. Aug. 17, 2018, and finding the deer dying near a home. Witnesses also reported a bullet hole in a residential garage. Attempts to trace the trajectory of the bullet from its impact point led Green River Police Department officers and game wardens to determine if the bullet came from one of three homes on the street.

Crooks was interviewed at his Arkansas Drive home Aug. 25, 2021, and denied knowledge of who was shooting the deer.

On Sept. 15, 2022, a Green River wildlife biologist reported locating a .223 bullet near the ribcage of a sick buck deer that had been euthanized. The deer was located at Harrison Elementary School on Alabama Street and was found while children were at recess. Wardens suspected the deer’s death was related to the prior incidents on Arkansas Drive.

Game wardens responded to another call Aug. 12, 2023, regarding a doe mule deer dying in the front yard of a residence on Arkansas Drive. The doe was euthanized and removed from the property and game wardens followed a trail of blood that appeared to come from Crooks’ home on Arkansas Drive, but found no additional blood on the sidewalk or past the residence. A necropsy was performed on the doe and two entrance wounds were discovered and a .224 bullet was recovered from the deer.

A warrant was issued to search Crooks’ home for .22 caliber arms, ammunition and spent cartridges and executed Aug. 22. When wildlife investigators and the GRPD arrived to speak with Crooks, he denied having knowledge of who was shooting deer in the neighborhood. Law enforcement discovered several boxes of .22 ammunition along with two .22 caliber rifles and a .22 caliber revolver. Investigators discovered what they believe was a makeshift suppressor, created using two 20 oz. Diet Coke bottles and parts of aluminum soda cans, which investigators believe was used to allow Crooks to shoot at the mule deer. According to court documents, Crooks told investigators he made it “just to fool around with” and the suppressor didn’t work. He said the suppressor was built to allow him to shoot skunks in his backyard without disturbing neighbors.

Bullets pulled from deer in 2021, 2022, and 2023 and the firearms seized by investigators were sent to the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation lab in Cheyenne. Court documents state two of the bullets were found to have been fired from a Marlin rifle seized from Crooks’ home. The third bullet had degraded too much to be determined if the bullet was fired from the rifle.

“Negative, they’re not the same. Whatever you want to say, I don’t think they’re the same,” Crooks was quoted as saying to investigators when asked what he thought the results would be.

After being told two of the bullets came from his rifle, Crooks continued to deny shooting the deer after being told the investigation pointed at him being the one shooting deer.

“I can’t, I don’t know what to tell you because I haven’t been shooting these deer,” court documents state Crooks said when investigators asked how long he has been shooting at the deer.