Fear of wolves made hunter leave the elk he poached behind, he tells Oregon officials

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Photo by Byron Johnson via Unsplash

A man poached a bull elk and then left it to waste because he said he was scared there were wolves in the area, according to Oregon wildlife officials.

He’ll spend 10 days in jail because of it, according to a March 27 news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife . In addition to jail time, he had to forfeit his $1,400 .308 rifle with scope and pay another $440 in fines. His license was suspended for one year and he’s on probation for a year, according to the release.

The 42-year-old man pleaded guilty to poaching charges on Jan. 20, the release said. He told Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife troopers he “intended to poach a cow elk for the meat, but mistakenly shot a bull as darkness set in on Oct. 1, 2022,” which he left to waste.

It was the first day of deer season in the Wenaha unit, and bull elk season hadn’t started yet, the release said.

Hunters found the carcass on Oct. 3 and called it in, the release said.

Investigating troopers matched the poacher’s truck from game camera footage, the release said. At first, he denied he was involved when troopers questioned him at his home, but later that night he contacted them to “confess to the crimes,” the release said.

He told troopers he meant to poach a cow elk, but “mistakenly shot the large 5x6-point bull in near darkness,” which he then abandoned, the release said. He said he would return later to recover the meat and antlers, and when he did the carcass was already “partially scavenged.”

Afraid wolves might be in the area, he abandoned the carcass again, the release said. He told troopers he went back to the carcass again the next day to remove the antlers, but couldn’t because he broke his saw.

“Leaving a game animal to waste” is a crime, the release said.

The OSP Fish & Wildlife sergeant who collected evidence and confiscated the man’s rifle for ballistics testing, Chris Hawkins, said 10 days is more jail time than is typical in fish and wildlife cases. That’s “one positive outcome of this sentencing,” he said in the release.

The hunter who reported the wasted carcass to the state could receive either $500 in cash or four hunter preference points for calling in the tip, the release said. They picked the hunter preference points, which gives them a better chance of drawing an opportunity to hunt in the future.

“Poachers steal from all Oregonians,” Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in the release. “Whether that is from a legitimate hunter who paid fees to hunt, or a hiker or photographer who missed the experience of seeing that animal.”

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