White-tailed buck, Oregon bull elk poaching

ENTERPRISE, Ore. — Poachers shot a white-tailed buck deer in NE Oregon and a bull elk in SW Oregon in a one-week timespan. Rewards stand at $500 (or four hunter preference points) in each instance for a call to the Turn in Poachers (TIP) Line that leads to a citation or arrest.

Poachers shot the 3×3 white-tailed buck in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 25, in the Sled Springs Wildlife Management Unit, which is near Enterprise. A member of the public discovered the deer and called the TIP Line to notify OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers. Troopers believe the poacher took the shot near the intersection of School Flat Ln and School Flat Rd. They used a large-caliber firearm to drop the animal about 30 yards from the road. Then left the scene and left the deer to waste.

Poachers shot the 5-point bull elk through its spine on or about Saturday Oct. 2, in Douglas County. Troopers found the large bull Oct. 5 on a gravel BLM road between Turkey Creek and Upper Cow Creek Rd, just east of I-5 and Canyon Mountain. Authorities are looking for a vehicle of interest with large mud terrain tires. Again, poachers left the scene and left the animal to waste.

There is no known connection between the two incidents, but Oregon hunters are taking both cases personally, according to Duane Dungannon, editor of Oregon Hunter Magazine. The Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) manages the TIP Line reward fund.

“Northeast Oregon’s whitetails have seen some tough times lately – a harsh winter not long ago, and disease outbreaks more recently,” Dungannon said. “OHA coordinated efforts with Wallowa County landowners to help save deer in Wallowa County during that severe winter when this buck might have been a fawn, so we take this personally.”

There are legal hunting opportunities for deer and elk across the state and regulated hunters and fair chase practices condemn poaching. The crime also impacts wildlife managers’ ability to track and maintain herd numbers, according to ODFW Enterprise District Biologist Bree Furfey.

“This is an unfortunate case because it does not represent the ethics of local hunters in Wallowa County and takes away hunting opportunities prior to opening of rifle buck season,” Furfey said, “It eliminates our ability to effectively monitor harvest pressure and therefore, develop population estimates for defensible hunt structures.”

It is an additional crime to leave the animal to waste, as happened in both cases, according to ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw.

“Fish and wildlife across our state are natural resources that belong to all Oregonians,” Shaw said, “Poachers steal from all of us, whether it’s a lost opportunity for a hunter, a photographer, or a kayaker, that experience is gone.”

Oregon hunters have a vested interest in poachers being caught and prosecuted.

“Elk continue to struggle in the Cascades, where the average law-abiding hunter can expect to take perhaps only one or two bulls like this in a lifetime,” Dungannon said, “So it’s maddening to see a nice bull illegally shot and wasted.”

The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, landowners, and recreationists. Our goal is to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line, increase detection by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers and increase prosecution. OHA manages the TIP Line. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw for more information. Yvonne.L.Shaw@odfw.oregon.gov.