A Fruita resident, who is also an employee of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has pleaded guilty to poaching a trophy elk in western Colorado.

Thad Bingham, 44, in a plea agreement with the Garfield County District Attorney's Office, pleaded guilty to trespassing and illegal possession of wildlife.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Bingham was one of four men who trespassed onto private property and poached a trophy class bull elk on the Roan Plateau northwest of Rifle in October 2014.

CPW officials first learned of the incident after Bingham posted a photo online which, after review, was determined to have been taken on private property not open to hunting. A CPW investigation found evidence confirming the elk was taken illegally.

Three other men involved, Brian Scheer, 45,  Barrett Rowles, 48, and Josh Fitzsimmons, 45, were found guilty of criminal trespass and ordered to pay fines.

Scheer, also an employee with the US Fish and Wildlife Department, works with Bingham at the Fruita Horsethief Canyon Native Fish Facility Ponds.

Bingham, who shot the elk, was ordered to pay a $200 fine and donate $5,000 to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

All four men still face the possibility of losing their hunting and fishing privileges for five years.

The CPW encourages people to report suspected wildlife violations by calling Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. All reported information is anonymous and may earn the tipster a reward if that information leads to a conviction.