BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Poachers killed a bull, a cow and a spike elk east of Sisters on or about Oct. 28, and Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers are looking for information leading to the culprits, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday.
The animals were discovered separately, but all three were in the same area and appear to have been killed at the same time, as NewsChannel 21 recently reported.
Two were left to waste, in a blatant demonstration of a "thrill kill," OSP said. The third, a large bull, had its head and shoulders removed as a trophy.
OSP Fish and Wildlife troopers discovered the first carcass, a cow elk, on Oct. 30 after a call to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line from a hunter who came across the carcass while scouting the Dry Canyon area east of Sisters, near Highway 126 and Quail Tree Drive.
Troopers investigating the area around the cow subsequently discovered a large bull elk carcass. Although bull elk were in season at the time, the poacher had taken only the head, antlers and some shoulder meat. It is a crime to leave carcasses to waste even if it is legal to kill the animal.
Two days later, on Nov. 1, another call came through on the TIP Line from a hunter who reported finding a spike elk carcass. A spike elk is a one-year-old male. Troopers located the spike elk about 40 yards from where the cow had been.
Based on decomposition, all three animals were shot at or near the same time, and certainly the same day, according to OSP F&W Sergeant Lowell Lea.
“They were all killed at the same time - or close to it - on opening day of the season,” Lea said, “Even if someone makes a mistake and kills the wrong animal, at least if they report it, they aren’t committing the additional crime of leave to waste.”
Senior Trooper Creed Cummings, who processed the scene, agrees.
“Sometimes people are reckless in shooting and they get the wrong species or gender. We were hoping that at least the cow (meat) would be salvageable, but it wasn’t,” Cummings said. “It’s disappointing that they were just left. And it adds another charge to the initial crime.”
Oregon’s Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw also agrees.
"This is a blatant waste of Oregonians’ natural resources,” she said. “Not only have these animals been removed from legal hunting in season, they are also removed from chance encounters with hikers, photographers and others who appreciate the opportunity to experience wildlife. We treasure those memories for the rest of our lives.”
All three elk were most likely shot on opening day of the East Central Cascade elk season, which runs Oct. 28 through Nov. 1. OSP troopers would like anyone in the area who heard shots at night or noticed anything unusual on opening day of the season to call the TIP Line and report it.
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. The Oregon Hunters Association manages TIP Line reward funds.
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. Yvonne.l.Shaw@state.or.us.