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The original item was published from 12/30/2018 2:51:21 PM to 3/31/2019 12:05:05 PM.

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San Miguel County Sheriff News

Posted on: December 30, 2018

[ARCHIVED] Sheriff Warns of Ski "Poaching" Dangers



Sheriff Warns of Ski “Poaching” Dangers

--Recent Incidents Pose Risks


Contact:  Susan Lilly, Public Information Officer   970-729-2028



December 30, 2018  -- (Telluride, CO) –  Sheriff Bill Masters is warning skiers about the dangers and criminal ramifications of “poaching,” that is skiing or snowboarding in closed terrain. 


The warning is being issued after recent poaching incidents in the Telluride Ski Resort, current avalanche dangers, and high skier volume. 


“What people don’t realize is that they can trigger an avalanche that has life-threatening risks to unassuming skiers in a different area of the resort,” Sheriff Masters said. For example, someone skiing in closed terrain on Gold Hill can trigger an avalanche that deposits dangerous snow slides on intermediate terrain elsewhere.  


The recent incidents include two individuals in their 20s who are new to Telluride. They allegedly ducked a rope and traversed down below Black Iron Bowl where Telluride Ski Patrollers were engaged in avalanche mitigation work. When patrollers yelled at them to stop, the female skier did so while the male snowboarder continued, later claiming that he did not see closure signs, a rope or hear the commands to stop.


“Ducking a rope is considered a petty crime, but skiers who venture into a closed area with people below can be charged with reckless endangerment, “ Sheriff Masters said. “And if those people are then injured or worse, you’re talking about a serious felony. The District Attorney has assured me he will prosecute poachers to the fullest extent of the law.”


Sheriff Masters is also warning people who ski into closed areas that they should not count on being rescued if they get into trouble. “There’s a reason these areas are closed, often because it’s dangerous to be in that area. So just because you think it’s a good idea to take that risk, doesn’t mean I’m going to have our people go and take that same risk to rescue you.”


Sheriff Masters asks skiers to pay attention to ropes and signage and ask ski patrollers or personnel if you have any questions about open vs. closed terrain.




The San Miguel Sheriff’s Office, located in Telluride, Colorado and established in 1883, serves 7,800 residents and countless visitors across the 1,288 square miles of San Miguel County. Sheriff Bill Masters has been serving as the county’s elected Sheriff since 1980

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