The Oregon Hunters Association has bolstered the reward up to $6,500 for information that leads to an arrest or citation in the case of three elk that were poached west of Bend on or about Oct. 28, 2020.
The bull, cow and spike elk were discovered separately, but all three were in the same area and appear to have been killed at the same time. The cow and spike were left to waste in a blatant demonstration of a thrill-kill. The large bull had its head and shoulders removed as a trophy.
OHA Bend, Redmond, Capitol, Josephine and Mid-Columbia chapters, along with several private donors, pooled resources to increase the reward amount. The Bend chapter hosted an online auction which raised $2,150. Fundraising efforts raised awareness about the case, according to Greg Petsch, who is the banquet chair and led the effort.
“There is so much poaching,” Petsch said, “They did this for their own satisfaction. I don’t know how they find this satisfying.”
Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers discovered the first carcass, a cow elk, on Oct. 30 after a call to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line from a hunter who came across the carcass while scouting the Dry Canyon area East of Sisters near Hwy 126 and Quail Tree Drive. Troopers investigating the area around the cow subsequently discovered a large bull elk carcass. Although bull elk were in season at the time, the poacher had taken only the head, antlers and some shoulder meat. It is a crime to leave carcasses to waste even if it is legal to kill the animal.
Two days later, on Nov. 1, another call came through on the TIP Line from a hunter who reported finding a spike elk carcass. A spike elk is a one-year-old male. Troopers located the spike elk about 40 yards from where the cow had been. Based on decomposition, all three animals were shot at or near the same time, and certainly the same day, according to OSP F&W Senior Trooper Creed Cummings, who processed the scene.
“Sometimes people are reckless in shooting and they get the wrong species or gender. We were hoping that at least the cow (meat) would be salvageable, but it wasn’t,” Trooper Cummings said, “It’s disappointing that they were just left. And it adds another charge to the initial crime.”
Petsch is quick to declare the differences between hunters and poachers.
“Hunting is about being outdoors with friends and your family, not necessarily harvesting something,” he said, “That is the experience. It’s the camaraderie.”
Oregon’s Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw agrees.
“This is a blatant waste of Oregonians’ natural resources,” she said, “Not only have these animals been removed from legal hunting in season, they are also removed from chance encounters with hikers, photographers and others who appreciate the opportunity to experience wildlife. Poachers take from all of us.”
All three elk were most likely shot on opening day of the East Central Cascade elk season which ran Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, 2020. Instead of the cash reward, a caller to the TIP Line could opt for 6 hunter preference points if their report leads to a citation. OSP Troopers would like anyone in the area who heard shots at night or noticed anything unusual on opening day of the season to call the TIP Line at 1-800-452-7888 or by cell *OSP (*677) or by email TIP@osp.oregon.gov.