Reward Offered for Second Missouri Elk Poached
It happened again. Another elk was poached. This one a newborn calf. A baby still with spots. Shot in the head and left on the side of the road to rot. It happened in the same area as the last one, in Shannon County near Log Yard.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is calling on the public to help with the investigation. If you know anything about this horrendous act, please come forward. You can do so anonymously. Not only is it the right thing to do, but you’ll be well compensated. If your information leads to an arrest, you’ll receive a reward worth thousands of dollars.
The criminal who killed the bull elk back in December of 2015 has never been caught. This could be the same person, or the two killings could be completely unrelated. It’s suspicious though, that the two killings happened so close together. Either way, these elk poachings must be stopped. This isn’t some little deal. These elk are incredibly valuable to the residents of Shannon County.
Jim Anderson, who is the mayor of Eminence and owner of Shady Lane Cabins, said, “The elk herd has created a whole new tourist season for our small Ozark towns. Not only are elk beautiful animals, but they also help stimulate the local economy. Businesses benefit. We are trying to grow the herd, and we don’t need to lose any of the elk. Especially not in this fashion.”
Being a part time resident of Shannon County myself, I can personally attest to how upsetting this is to most of the locals. The majority of people in this area are hardworking, honest folks who love to spend time outdoors and take great offense to this sort of crime taking place in their backyard. This is just a case of one or two bad apples who need to be caught and stopped.
The region has come to take great pride in their elk, and the surrounding communities of Ellington, Van Buren and Eminence are enjoying the influx of tourism dollars from visitors coming to view the elk and listen to the bulls bugle in the fall. When the herd reaches the numbers necessary for a hunt to happen, which is predicted to be in 2020, another nice economic bump will come to the people of the area from hunters renting rooms, eating in restaurants, shopping in local stores and more. But for that to happen, the poaching has to stop and the and the elk have to be protected.
In a press release issued by MDC, Gerald Smith the Ozark Regional Protection Supervisor, said, “This is the second known elk poaching incident in the region. The first was a mature bull that was killed in December 2015. In that case, the poachers removed the bull’s antlers with a chain saw and left it otherwise untouched in the woods where it fell, likely because of its size. Elk calf 1829 wasn’t yet the size of a small deer, so its placement next to a road might have been driven by the poacher’s desire for attention,” Smith said.
Smith said it’s important to note that poaching is not hunting, and poachers are not hunters.
Hunters hold the experience of fair chase in their hearts. Hunters conduct themselves ethically, by following game laws, practicing conservation and by embracing the privilege we have to pursue game and fish in this state. Anyone breaking these game laws is a not hunter, they are a poacher and they need to be punished for their crimes with a level of severity that will deter future actions.
“These poaching incidents are ethically wrong and represent poor moral conduct,” Smith said. “The people who did this do not understand the value of conserving wildlife, the value of the law, or reflect the values held by the majority of Missouri’s local or state citizens.”
Poachers’ have no regard for the wildlife they steal from the citizens of Missouri. They selfishly disparage our resources while laughing in the face of the law, knowing current poaching fines and sentences in Missouri are so minimal, they’re basically not worth worrying about.
The Conservation Federation of Missouri has been working with MDC staff to encourage the state legislature to significantly increase poaching fines. A bill to do so passed the House of Representatives last year but failed to pass the Senate. We are hopeful new poaching fines will become law in 2019 to help deter others from committing violations against all of us, the citizens of Missouri, who own the wildlife poachers steal. You should write your elected officials to tell them how upsetting this poaching instance is to you, and how important it is to pass stricter poaching laws.
Anyone with information that could help with this investigation can call the Operation Game Thief (OGT) hotline at 1-800-392-1111. The hotline is managed 24 hours a day and you may remain anonymous. For more information about elk in Missouri, visit MDC’s website at https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/elk.
See you down the trail…