By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Six pronghorn antelope run down by a pickup truck in Lake County are the latest in a string of poaching thrill kills around the state.
The suspect told authorities he did it because he hates pronghorn.
In April, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers discovered the carcasses of five does and one buck pronghorn antelope strewn along Fossil Lake Road near Christmas Valley.
The buck’s horns had been removed and taken as a trophy.
One doe was eviscerated with a knife—her unborn fawn removed and placed on its mother’s carcass.
“Drive over animals intentionally… then take a knife to one and cut horns off another one? That’s not a normal person,” said Bill Littlefield, a member of the Bend Chapter of the Oregon Hunter’s Association.
A caller to the Turn in Poachers Line said he heard a man bragging about accelerating his pickup to hit several pronghorn which were standing in the middle of the road.
The tip led police to 48-year-old MIchael Scott Phillips.
Antelope horns and other evidence linking Phillips to the crime were found in his Christmas Valley home.
“It really is a shame that this person has not only robbed the antelope of their lives but they’ve robbed all Oregonians of the opportunity to experience them whether that’s through hunting, or photography or hiking.” said Yvonne Shaw, Anti-Poaching Campaign Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Phillips is charged with multiple counts of aggravated animal abuse, illegal take and possession of antelope and waste of a game animal.
Phillips pleaded not guilty to all charges. His trial is scheduled to begin in October.
“It’s a crime against animals and a lot of times those people get off with a slap on the wrist,” Littlefield said. “Oregon Hunters Association has worked for several years to try to get the Legislature to increase penalties to create a deterrent.”
“Oregon State Police will tell you, they are only catching a fraction of the people who are poaching,” Shaw said. “We rely on people who are exploring Oregon’s outdoors, out hiking and boating and everything else, we really rely on them to report.”
Shaw says this single case nearly equals all reports of antelope poaching last year.
Shaw says 15 cases of antelope poaching were investigated in 2017.
There were 14 antelope poaching cases the year before that.