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Elk, mule deer poached in Colorado mountains

Hunters and wildlife officials are troubled by cases of deer and elk being shot and left to waste.

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY, Colo. — Wildlife management officials are raising the alarm after suspected poaching cases in the southwest mountains of Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said it is investigating eight suspected poaching cases in San Miguel County.

The cases involve three mule deer bucks and five elk. The incidents occurred between Oct. 30 and Nov. 15, according to CPW.

"All of these animals were found shot and left to waste," said Rachel Sralla, CPW area wildlife manager. "This is an egregious violation of Colorado’s laws surrounding hunting and fishing, which require hunters to prepare game meat for human consumption."

Dry Creek Basin

Two cases of suspected poaching of mule deer bucks occurred within Dry Creek Basin on Oct. 30.

CPW said the animals were within easy walking distance of a road and had received wounds that were instantly fatal. There was no apparent reason an ethical hunter would not have retrieved and tagged these deer and properly harvested the meat.

Another mule deer buck was shot and left in Dry Creek Basin on Nov. 6. Again, the deer was within easy walking distance of the road and there was no apparent reason an ethical hunter would have abandoned this animal.

Dan Noble State Wildlife Area

Two bull elk were discovered at the Dan Noble State Wildlife Area south of Norwood on Nov. 6.

CPW said these were legal bulls based upon the antler point restriction and that the wounds were instantly fatal. They were about 400 yards from a main road in open country, and there was no apparent reason an ethical hunter could not have retrieved these animals, according to CPW.

Callan Draw

Another bull elk and two cow elk were shot and left to waste in the Callan Draw area southwest of Norwood on Nov. 17.

CPW first investigated a spike bull elk being shot and left to waste. The investigation found two cow elk had also been killed.

CPW said it appeared the parties associated with this incident initially attempted to retrieve the cow elk as is required by law but later abandoned the carcasses and some equipment. It was determined these elk were likely killed Nov. 15 or 16.

Evidence was collected at each of the incidents that was being used to continue the investigation.

"In any activity that people enjoy, most of the time things go well and the participants behave in the appropriate legal, moral and ethical manner," said CPW District Wildlife Manager Mark Caddy. "Sometimes, however, there are one or two people who show up and act in a manner that no one inside or outside of the activity can condone. Evidently, these types of individuals showed up in GMU 70 during the recent hunting seasons."

CPW asked the public for assistance in solving these crimes. If you were in the areas described and have any information regarding these incidents, call Caddy at 970-209-2368 or CPW District Wildlife Manager Tony Bonacquista at 970-209-2374.

To provide information anonymously, the public can contact Operation Game Thief by phone at 877-265-6648 or by email at game.thief@state.co.us.

Sralla said waste of wildlife is an especially troublesome crime to ethical hunters who take care and pride in preparing their meat to take home.

"The initial information on each animal in these cases came from hunters in the field who took the time to call and report that something was going on," Caddy said. "These ethical hunters are as concerned about this happening as we are."

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