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Eastern Oregon poachers kill 2 pronghorn antelope, leave 2 others mortally wounded in ‘thrill kill’

Four pronghorn antelope were taken in a 'thrill kill' poaching incident in a field near the town of Crane, authorities say
Four pronghorn antelope were taken in a 'thrill kill' poaching incident in a field near the town of Crane, authorities say

$1,000 reward or 7 hunter preference points offered for info leading to arrest or citation

CRANE, Ore.  (KTVZ) — Poachers left two pronghorn antelope dead and two more to suffer on the night of Jan. 16 in a "thrill kill" near the Eastern Oregon town of Crane, officials said Friday. The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division wants to hear from anyone who saw unusual activity on Highway 78 near milepost 33.

The Turn in Poachers (TIP) reward stands at $1,000 cash or seven ODFW hunter preference points for information that leads to an arrest or citation in the case. The Oregon Hunters Association manages the TIP reward fund.

A landowner noticed two pronghorn antelope does behaving strangely on the morning of Jan. 17 in his field along Highway 78,  near Rodeo Lane, about four miles south of Crane.

When he reached the does, he could see the animals were badly injured. The landowner contacted OSP Fish and Wildlife Division, and Senior Trooper Dean Trent, from the Burns office, responded.

Trent said he could tell right away that the injuries were not survivable and a result of intentional criminal activity. The injured does were euthanized immediately. He then located two additional does that had been killed outright, clearly during the same incident.

OSP Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Erich Timko said the dead does had been partially devoured by predators, indicating the kills likely happened sometime the previous evening of Sunday, Jan. 16 to the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 17.

A large herd of about 30 pronghorn antelope had been visible in the landowner's field for the past week or so, making them easy targets, according to Timko.

This time of year, pronghorn can graze on winter hay and alfalfa fields in areas that allow pronghorn to use their superior eyesight and speed to avoid predators as well as provide the food and water necessary to support large numbers of animals, according to ODFW Malheur Watershed District Manager Phillip Milburn.

"Harney County is home to some of the largest pronghorn herds in the state," Milburn said, "The terrain allows them to survive the weather and evade predators, so it is very likely that all four of those does would have survived and had fawns."

However, the landscape does not provide protection from poachers. When poachers take females, that also impacts herd numbers.

"I don't understand anyone's motivation for doing something like this," Milburn said, "Poaching happens often enough to be population-limiting in our herds. An area only needs a few bucks, but the number of does determines how the herd will — or won't — expand."

Wildlife advocates and managers are disturbed at the act - and impact - of poaching thrill kills. ODFW Wildlife Administrator Bernadette Graham-Hudson said she takes poaching personally and believes the crime cannot be tolerated.

"Poaching four pronghorn does is an atrocious act, especially leaving two to die," Graham-Hudson said, "The disrespect for Oregon's wildlife greatly upsets me.  I am hopeful that those responsible will be brought to justice."

Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw agrees.

"Thrill kills go against all our values about what Oregon is, and how we value our wildlife," Shaw said.

OSP said would like to hear from anyone with information on this case, not only because of the crime committed, but also the ongoing impact to the larger population of pronghorn across the state.

"This is egregious. Surviving the winter conditions alone is difficult for these animals," Timko said. "To just kill them and leave them is such a sad waste of our wildlife. It is very likely had they survived the winter, they would have given birth to at least one fawn each."

If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Senior Trooper Dean Trent through the OSP TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (677) or TIP E-Mail: (Monitored M-F 8:00AM - 5:00PM).

The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, land owners and recreationists. Our goal is to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line, increase detection by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers and increase prosecution. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon's fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information.

KTVZ news sources



  1. – pronghorn, wolves, you name it – they’re not going to eat them, they just like to kill – and then there are the ones who prattle on and on trying to justify such behavior…..

  2. Extremely sad and distressed as I am reminded here the possibilities of human psyche. The persons responsible are yet more poster specimens for strict gun control. IMO the chances are great there are more dead or wounded animals left to die slowly yet undiscovered. Equally likely the perpetrators were local residents and used the popular semi-automatic rifles I despise so much. ODFW regularly shoots wolves for lesser “crimes”.

    1. “used the popular semi-automatic rifles I despise so much”

      You despise them so much you see them even though guns where not even mentioned in the report at all.

  3. There will be many childishly defensive replies from the gun rights advocates as seen above: “antifa” so I will just add I’m glad it wasn’t school children, yet.

      1. I didn’t see where it said they were struck by motor vehicles either. I’m sure the dead ones and the wounded survivors made it into the field from the road. I know ODFW and State Police ALWAYS get so triggered and involved in these traffic accidents. I am also sure that is why the hunter’s association is offering the reward for this poaching by motor vehicle incident. Thanks for the clarification. The world needs one more clown and less wildlife.

        1. The photo clearly shows vehicle tracks heading out into the field. That’s more evidence towards the weapon used being a vehicle than guns (which are mentioned nowhere at all).

          Perhaps KTVZ could do some further reporting to clarify…

          1. So you have four pronghorn just standing around waiting to get run over one at a time? Seems like if the law enforcement that were investigating says they were shot then perhaps they were shot, as opposed to someone seeing tire tracks on the snow (maybe from the law enforcement vehicle?) in a picture and trying to spin a fantasy.

            1. Note that the report says “the animals were badly injured”, not wounded. In law enforcement parlance weapons cause wounds, vehicles and other causes result in injuries. That’s the first clue.

              The second clue is the statement “injuries were not survivable and a result of intentional criminal activity”. Criminal activity is also a very vague statement. If the incident was so clearly a case of shooting why are the statements so vague?

  4. It makes me madder than hell when I read stories like this one. I don’t have a problem
    with someone poaching if they truly need the meat to help feed their family, as long as they
    don’t just shoot the biggest animal they can find, and they utilize every ounce of meat that they possibly can but very few people do. They usually only take the choice cuts of meat
    and take the rack if it’s a big buck or bull.
    People that shoot animals just for the thrill of it should be removed from society because they obviously have serious mental issues.

  5. People like to blame cougars for the relative scarcity of game these days, but I’ll bet poachers do a lot of damage too. I hope they catch the lowlifes that did this.

    1. Game Wardens are armed. The law is suitably harsh. You can go to jail, lose the firearm and vehicle used in the crime. It’s just a matter of catching them….

  6. Irrespective of the identity of the shooters, we should all agree that this was irresponsible poaching. In my view, poachers should be heavily fined, and lose their rights to hunting licenses until or unless they can prove themselves responsible again. Another example of what happens when irresponsible people are allowed to have guns.

  7. Dirty miserable pukes! They need to be made an example of and locked up, stripped of gun rights forever and then put on road crews to clean hwys and pick up dead animals for about 10 years.

  8. there is no excuse for poaching and it is wrong in every sense unless the person was dying of hunger and did it out of necessity which probably hasn’t happened in a very long time, but labeling it a “thrill” kill is presumptive and probably used for clicks. It got mine

      1. thanks for clarification and while it may have actually been a “thrill” kill, the reality is no one but the people who did it know the reason. Maybe they were high school kids wanting to try out their new hunting rifles and made a very poor decision which they hopefully regret.

  9. These “people” are sick and a danger to others. Anyone who will inflict harm like this for no reason on a living creature is dangerous. I hunt and fish and I strive to be as humane as possible. WHo would take pleasure in hurting the animals for no reason? I hope they find these criminals and they are punished severely. Jail time, loss of hunting and gun rights -FOR THE REST IF THEIR LIVES. These **** heads need to be caught! People who mutilate and torture animals should have to register like sex offenders do. This is how serial killers start out and I bet these were some teenagers who got into their parents gun safe (if they even have a gun safe).

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