“Not to take away from the good honest hunters out there who are having fun with families and friends and trying to fill their freezers the right way, but we have an epidemic of slob poaching going on — stuff that even the poachers probably think makes them look bad,” IDFG district conservation officer George Fischer told the Free Press. “There have been about 20 incidents we’ve detected so far this fall, and our detection rate is certainly not 100 percent.”
Fischer said just during the past four days, prior to Nov. 14, a number of headless animals have been found.
“We’ve got a headless buck on Pinnacle Ridge that was lethally shot that you can tell from the body size was a trophy mule deer,” he said. “We’ve got a trophy body size whitetail buck that shot, gutted and left on the Old White Bird Grade. It was probably 400 yards from the road. Someone probably just changed their mind about packing it out — just grabbed the head and left and never came back.”
In addition to previously reported incidents near Slate Creek, Fischer said there was another mule deer buck found shot and left.
“And we still have numerous unsolved mysteries of elk shot and left,” he added. “I’ve got several new officers in the area who are just shocked at what some of these poachers are capable of. These are guys who are hardened in the field, but who have been kind of like ‘Wow,’ at some of the stuff that is going on.”
Fischer said it is unlawful to possess the head of an animal that died of gunfire that wasn’t hunted lawfully.
“If anybody knows of heads that are showing up without bodies and tags, a cash reward for information on these cases is being offered by Citizens Against Poaching,” Fischer said. “Friends don’t let friends shoot animals and cut their heads off. These are significant losses to the people of Idaho. These are animals that should have survived or been taken home. Some of this is probably being done by the same people, and some is probably just random shootings. And this is not being done by hunters.”
To contact Citizens Against Poaching, call 1-800-632-5999.
To contact an IDFG conservation officer, call the Lewiston office at 208-799-5010, or call the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office switchboard at 208-983-1200.
“Please call if you see something suspicious,” Fischer said. “We know there are a lot of people out there doing it right, and if someone knows about a whole bunch of heads showing up with no bodies, we’d sure love to know about it.”
Earlier this fall, the IDFG Clearwater Region began seeking information on a mule deer buck that was shot and left to waste in the vicinity of Dairy Mountain north of Riggins — one of many deer that are shot and wasted every year.
That deer was shot within a mile of a bull elk killed and left to waste in the Slate Creek drainage. A large five-point bull elk was found left to waste on Oct. 10.