Utah Division of Wildlife officials have found that 6 elk have been killed in a poaching spree. The incident took place north of Park City near the Bitner Fire Station. Officer Jonathan Moser was patrolling the area near the end of January, he decided to check on the resident bachelor herd of elk. Sadly, that’s when he found the first dead elk. After further searching the area he found 2 other dead bull elk. In the following days, Moser found 3 more dead elk. Interestingly, the elk had been shot with several different rifles including a .22 which is illegal to shoot big game with. Moser believes the poaching took place around Dec. 20th through Jan. 20th.

Investigation and Theories

Moser has two theories on what the poacher was trying to do. Firstly, he thinks the poacher was hoping the wounded elk would wander to a hidden place. Once at the spot the poacher could take the meat and antlers quietly. This plan didn’t work due to the elk dying in the open. Secondly, he thinks the poacher may have wanted to let them rot then once they were old enough the poacher would call the DWR about them. Then the poacher would hope to get the antlers as a reward. If a person contacts the Utah DWR about finding a dead animal they may be rewarded the head and antlers. Usually, a lengthy investigation takes place to confirm that the animals died of natural causes.

“I really don’t know why they would go out and SHOOT THESE ELK,” Moser said. “It’s beyond me.” “I’m really hoping that somebody was in the area and they saw something suspicious, ‘Was that really a rifle out that guy’s window? Was that something I really saw?’” Moser said. “If they saw something suspicious in that timeframe and they can recall the color of a vehicle or stickers on the back, something that could help me identify a suspect.”

If you have any information about the ongoing investigation please contact the Utah Poaching Hotline at 1-800-662-3337. You can also report to them online through their website. Poaching not only hurts wildlife but also hurts hunters and wildlife viewers alike.

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