By Mike Porras, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, NW Region
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers ask the public for help finding the person who killed then abandoned a trophy-quality 6×6 bull elk, leaving the meat to waste.
The elk was found in Game Management Unit 10 approximately 1.5 miles north of Mellen Hill, near Rio Blanco County Road 98, north west of Rangely CO. Legal hunters typically have to wait 20 years to draw a license in the unit.
Investigators believe someone shot the bull between October 2-4, 2016, during an early rifle hunting season, then left it to waste. A hunter scouting the area found it on October 6, 2016, and immediately contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“We’ve found some evidence at the scene and will continue to investigate until we find the person responsible for this,” said District Wildlife Manager Nate Martinez of Rangely. “But in the meantime, we would appreciate hearing from anyone that can provide information.”
Martinez says it is possible a legal hunter shot the animal but did not locate it. He reminds hunters it is their responsibility to make a reasonable attempt to track and kill any animal they wound. Failing to do so is illegal.
“In many cases, the animal does not travel very far, especially with a well placed shot,” he said. “At this point, we just want to know what happened.”
Because the bull is considered trophy-quality and the meat spoiled, the person responsible could face significant penalties including steep fines, felony charges and the revocation of hunting and fishing privileges.
“The person that did this still has the time to do the right thing,” said Martinez. “In most cases, we take prompt reporting into account when assessing charges. Otherwise, there will be severe penalties for killing a trophy-quality bull, letting it go to waste and taking away this opportunity from responsible hunters that wait many years to legally hunt in the unit.”
Anyone with information can contact District Wildlife Manager Nate Martinez at 970.878.6071.
Under Colorado’s TIP program, turning in poachers makes you eligible for a preference points, or in some cases, the reward of a license for reports of illegal take or possession or willful destruction of big game or turkey. The program is in addition to Operation Game Thief, a tip line where information about wildlife crimes can be reported anonymously with a monetary reward available if the information leads to an arrest or citation.
To report a wildlife crime, call 877.265.6648, dial #OGT from a Verizon phone, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Specify whether you are interested in OGT or TIP. Unlike OGT, a person providing information must testify in court under the TIP program.
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 42 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.