9 Charged in Cases of Elk Poaching, Illegal Hunting

In Arkansas, investigators filed multiple charges against two groups suspected of poaching.

Three face charges for killing this bull elk found earlier this year. (Photo from Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Facebook)

A total of nine Arkansas residents were arrested and charged this week in two separate, but connected, poaching cases.

Altogether, the accused face thousands of dollars in fines from dozens of charges

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reported the arrests in two news releases:

Three Springdale residents, including a man and wife, were arrested for poaching two bull elks in the north-central part of the state. The dead elk were found along a country road near the Newton/Madison county line earlier this year.

Rebecca Burkett, 27, her husband, Clifford Lee Burkett, 52, and Joyce Stout, 57, were all arrested and face combined fines of more than $24,000.

  • Rebecca Burkett, who faces a $12,870 fine, also was charged with fleeing a wildlife officer, taking of elk prohibited, criminal trespass, hunting wildlife in closed season, aiding and abetting, hunting from the road and big game checking requirements.
  • Clifford Lee Burkett, who faces $5,000 in fines, was charged with hunting out of season, criminal trespass, and aiding, accompanying and abetting.
  • Stout faces fines of $6,420, and charges of hunting from the road, fleeing an officer, criminal trespass, hunting wildlife in a closed season, taking of elk prohibited, big game checking requirements, criminal trespass, and aiding accompanying and abetting.

According to the news release:

"Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officers responded to calls from local landowners Jan. 29 after the landowners noticed two dead elk on private property. Both elk had been shot. One elk had tenderloins removed and there was evidence that the head was in the process of being removed.

"Several pieces of evidence were recovered at the scene that helped lead to the arrests. AGFC biologists also responded to collect chronic wasting disease samples and DNA evidence from each animal. Both elk were found to be CWD-negative. After evidence was collected, both animals were processed in the field and the meat was salvaged and donated.

"During the investigation, a third poached bull elk was found in a storage building in Springdale."

6 more arrests

Six people — three from White County and three from Pope County -- were arrested for illegal hunting in Arkansas and Colorado, the agency said in a second news release.

The arrests were the culmination of a joint investigation involving the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The White County residents were charged with 115 game violations.

Daniel Ross, Hunter Ross and a juvenile face multiple counts of hunting wildlife in a closed season, hunting at night, transporting illegally taken wildlife and several other violations.

The investigation into the White County case led to three additional arrests in Pope County, where Kelly "Bubba" Samuels, Kirk Killins and Daron Killins were arrested on a total of 54 game violations, including multiple counts of night hunting, hunting during a closed season and big game tagging requirements.

According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's news release:

"The investigation began in September 2016, followed by search warrants served on several White County residences and Xtreme Taxidermy near Romance, Ark. Several items taken as evidence during the searches revealed a connection to the Pope County violations."

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