While most of you were enjoying the holidays and spending time with family, some poachers were still out stealing your wildlife. Sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Day two elk were shot and left to waste on the hill above the Glenwood Road. On Friday, Jan. 3 concerned citizens called to report seeing the dead elk. Fish and Game investigated and confirmed that both the young bull and a healthy cow had been shot. Evidence indicated that the poachers most likely shot across the canyon, from the Beaverslide road, and no attempt was made to retrieve either elk. Dec. 27 three elk were poached at the top of Gilbert Grade, right near the Clearwater-Lewis county line. Evidence showed that poachers likely shot from the vehicle and never tried to get to the elk. Responding deputies and Fish and Game officers were able to salvage the meat from these animals. Then a Jan. 1 call reported a deer shot on Upper Fords Creek Road, near Weippe. While the caller had a good vehicle description, there were not enough officers working on the holiday to cover the possible routes of escape. Investigating officers found that only the choice back straps of this deer were taken. Two mule deer does were also shot and left on the lower end of Highway 64. The deer were reported in late November and the first week of December, and both were found 250 yards above the road. One witness commented that “it’s almost like they were used for target practice”. Since Dec. 29, officers working in the Riggins area have investigated five deer shot and left near Pollock.
The deer and elk in this story are only a fraction of the total number of animals poached each year. In 2013 Clearwater officers alone investigated and documented more than 120 poached big game animals. Many of these were shot and wasted, but some were taken without tags or in a closed area. If you think that is a big number this will scare you. Research has shown that Fish and Game Officers only detect a fraction of the illegal animals, and most say it is less than 5 percent. So the real number in the region might be 2400 animals. Now multiply that number by 7, for all the regions in the state, and the number could be nearly 17,000 big game animals taken from you. All of these investigations are hard because there is little to no evidence left at the scene. Officers do not expect to solve every case, but they always try to find that one item or witness that will make the case.
If you have any information on these cases or any wildlife crime you need to call Citizens Against Poaching, at 1-800-632-5999. You can remain anonymous and if your information leads to an arrest you will receive a reward. CAP has increased the reward for the multiple elk case to $1,000.