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Elk Poachings Included Cow with GPS Collar

Elk Poachings Included Cow with GPS Collar

Wyoming wildlife officials say two recent discoveries of apparent elk poachings were likely the results of people not fulfilling their hunting obligations.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is investigating two reported elk poachings, including a cow that was wearing a GPS collar as part of a study.

Both reports were possibly the results of people not fulfilling their responsibilities to do the right thing after shots were fired.

Green River Wildlife Managment Coordinator Mark Zornes and Green River Habitat Biologist Kevin Spence place a collar on a cow elk on Little Mountain. (Photo by Lucy Wold, WGFD)

Green River Game Warden Gary Boyd said the cases occurred in Elk Hunt Area 31 (Little Mountain) between Oct. 4 and Oct. 6.

"The first elk discovered was a cow that was shot and left on the east side of Little Mountain, south of Rock Springs," Boyd said in an agency news release asking for the public's help to ID the perpetrators. "The cow elk had a GPS collar on it and was collared as part of the D.E.E.R Project [Deer-Elk Ecology Research] going on in the area."

The D.E.E.R. Project is a multi-agency effort "to seek a better understanding of pressures facing mule deer and their interactions with elk in an ever-changing environment," according to its website.

Boyd thinks whoever shot the cow may have thought they'd get in trouble for killing a collared animal, but it's not illegal to do so. It is against the law, however, to leave an animal to waste.

What to do if you harvest a radio-collared game animal, from Wyoming Game and Fish:

  • Try to remove the collar intact. Radio collars are expensive and hold important data on animal movements. Cutting the band can damage electronic components.
  • Once the collar is removed, Game and Fish requests that the person in possession of the collar call and arrange its return to any regional office or WGFD employee.

"The second elk poached was a six-point bull elk shot and left on the west side of Little Mountain," Boyd said. "The bull was field dressed, but the head and antlers were left attached. It appears the hunter tried to drag the bull out of the area, but gave up, and left the whole animal to waste."

Hunters in Wyoming are legally responsible to properly field dress a harvested animal and remove the edible portions, no matter where it was harvested.

If you have info on either poaching case, call the Stop Poaching Hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847), report it online at, or call Boyd at 307-875-3325 or the Green River Game and Fish office at 307-875-3223.

You also can text info to TIP411 (847-411) with keyword WGFD.

You may be eligible for a reward if your info leads to a conviction.

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