BOZEMAN - Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wardens are investigating three poaching incidents occurring within a two week period in region three.
On November 23, FWP says a spiked bull elk was found shot and killed in an area illegal to hunt spiked elk. The elk was ditched on Montana State University’s Red Bluff Ranch, north of State Highway 84 and east of Norris.
The carcass was found near several cow elk carcasses that hunters had salvaged all meat from. FWP says the meat on the spiked bull elk was determined unsafe to be consumed by the time wardens found it.
FWP says there were two other poaching incidents involving two buck white-tailed deer, both abandoned on private property.
The first deer was found dead around Three Forks. FWP believes the hunter shot the deer from a road at night between November 24 and November 27.
The second deer was killed in the Four Corners area, west of the Gallatin gravel pit in a restricted weapon zone on the evening of November 30. FWP believes this deer was also hunted from the road past permitted hunting hours.
Both deer had meat determined unsafe to eat due to the delay in finding them.
Morgan Jacobsen, a spokesperson for FWP, says they don't have evidence yet that the same person is involved with all three incidents, but no matter who is responsible, it's a loss in many ways.
"The largest positive thing that can come from an unfortunate incident like that is we can make sure the meat doesn’t go to waste, that that animal is serving some kind of purpose," says JIacobsen. "It's really incumbent upon the hunter to know those rules and if they make a mistake, to own up to it."
FWP says it is important to report poached game because the meat could be donated to nearby food banks. Even when a hunter accidentally shoots and kills restricted game like spiked elk, FWP says fines will be considerably decreased if the incident is reported.
A spokesperson for Montana State University, on whose property the spiked bull elk was found, urges anyone with information to reach out to FWP.
Anyone who comes forward with information may receive a cash reward and is allowed to remain unidentified. Call FWP at 1-800-TIP-MONT (847-6668) to report any information regarding these incidents.