(Editor’s note: A photo of one of the bull elks mentioned in this case is at the bottom of the story. It may be disturbing for some.)
Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife is looking for two people and a vehicle as it investigates a poaching case involving two bull elks near Tumalo in Deschutes County.
OSP said a vehicle that appeared to be a red pickup was spotted by a witness on September 26 parked at the intersection of Highway 20 and Innes Market between 5:00 a.m. and 6:10 a.m.
At 6:10 a.m., a male and female were seen leaving private property near the intersection of Highway 20 and Tweed Road west of Tumalo. OSP said the two people did not have permission to be on the property and were seen packing out the head and antlers of a bull elk to the pickup.
OSP said its investigation said the two people and “processed” a bull elk of unknown size on the property.
A second bull elk was found dead within an “agricultural pivot” on the property.
OSP said it appears archery equipment was used to harvest the elks. Archery season had ended one day earlier.
No hunters had permission to hunt on the property, OSP said.
OSP Fish & Wildlife Division is asking anyone with information about this case to call the Oregon State Police Tip-line at 1-800-452-7888, *OSP (*677), or email at TIP@osp.oregon.gov. Reference case number SP2225969.
Oregon’s Turn In Poachers (TIP) program offers preference points or cash rewards for information leading toward a conclusion in the investigation of the illegal killing of wildlife and waste of big game.
PREFERENCE POINT REWARDS:
- 5 Points-Mountain Sheep
- 5 Points-Rocky Mountain Goat
- 5 Points-Moose
- 5 Points-Wolf
- 4 Points-Elk
- 4 Points-Deer
- 4 Points-Antelope
- 4 Points-Bear
- 4 Points-Cougar
Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) Cash Rewards:
- $1,000 Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goat, and Moose
- $500 Elk, Deer, and Antelope
- $300 Bear, Cougar, and Wolf
- $300 Habitat Destruction
- $200 – Illegally obtaining Oregon hunting or angling license or tags
- $200 – Unlawful Lending/Borrowing Big Game Tag(s)
- $100 Upland Birds and Waterfowl
- $100 Game Birds or Furbearers
- $100 Game Fish and Shellfish
Oregon Wildlife Coalition (OWC) Cash Rewards:
- $500 Hawk, Falcon, Eagle, Owl, Osprey
- All other protected avian species: see category below for listed species
- $500 Cougar, Bobcat, Beaver (public lands only), Black bears, Bighorn Sheep, Marten, Fisher, Sierra Nevada Red Fox
Species listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under state or federal Endangered Species Act (excludes fish)
- $1,000 (e.g. wolf, wolverine, kit fox, red tree vole, Canada lynx, sea otter, Columbian white-tailed deer, California brown pelican, western snowy plover, California least tern, northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, short-tailed albatross, streaked horned lark, yellow-billed cuckoo, leatherback sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, Oregon spotted frog, green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle)
Deer hunting season began Oct. 1 for western Oregon for all weapons, and for elk, it starts Nov. 5.
Doug Stout, the Vice President of the Bend Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, said it’s much more prevalent in Central Oregon than he would like.
“It’s estimated that more deer and elk are killed by poachers illegally in Oregon than legally killed by legitimate legal hunters, so it is a significant problem,” he said.
“Every animal that is poached is one that can’t be harvested legally, and it also takes one out of the breeding pool which increases the downward spiral of the population. The other problem is these poachers, they’re not hunters. They’re actually criminals, and they’re criminals that are stealing form the people of the state of Oregon.”
Stout said poachers make hunters appear in a negative light to the general population.
Yvonne Shaw, the Stop Poaching campaign coordinator with ODFW, said there are many reasons that a person might choose to poach.
“Just the thrill kill. They just like going out and killing things,” she said. “Another [reason] is for a trophy, so they’ll kill a magnificent animal and just take its head or antlers or paws. Some people poach for profit. When we talk about for instance poaching bear or sturgeon, there’s a robust black market for those parts.”
There are now 128 state troopers dedicated to catching poachers around Oregon, but Shaw said they’re usually difficult to track down.
“Poaching often happens at night, or in very secluded areas where no one is around. Often our troopers are left with just the remains of what is actually a crime scene,” she said.
“It’s such a waste,” Stout added. “You’ve got a 600 pound elk with a lot of some of what I consider to be the best meat on the planet, and to shoot it and leave it to lay, not only is it criminal but it borders on insanity for me and a lot of people.”
ODFW hopes to help the public look for warning signs to help bring criminals to justice.
Shaw said people should watch out for others driving slowly at night casting light from their vehicle, an illegal method called ‘spotlighting’ in which they startle the animals with the light and then shoot them.
“If you see a vehicle that has a large amount of blood dripping form the tailgate or the trunk of the car or something like that, you know that animal was put in there in a hurry, and that’s another sign of poaching,” she said. “Also watch for animal heads that don’t have a tag attached to the antlers. Legal legitimate hunters attach a tag immediately after they’ve harvested elk.”