Reward for information on two elk poached near Bell Mountain Road

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. — Oregon Hunters Association is offering a $1,000 reward for information on two cow elk poached and left to waste on or about July 24 in rural Yamhill County near Willamina. The information must lead to a citation or arrest.

OSP Fish and Wildlife Senior Trooper Rodney Thomas responded to a call to the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line on July 31. Senior Trooper Thomas responded to the reported location near Bell Mountain Road where he observed several turkey vultures circling and landing. He glassed the area and spotted both elk carcasses about 400 feet off the side of the road. Both animals had been left to waste.

Based on evidence at the scene, and scavenging and condition of the carcasses, Senior Trooper Thomas believes the elk were shot around July 24.

Thomas is no stranger to Bell Mountain or poaching. Senior Trooper Thomas has worked in the McMinnville Area Command for the last 6 years, after transferring from the Tillamook worksite. Senior Trooper Thomas has set up many Wildlife Enforcement Decoy operations, catching poachers spotlighting and shooting deer decoys placed in fields and near roads. The location of the elk carcasses, slightly uphill from the road, indicates they could have been good targets for spotlighting.

“These aren’t legal hunters doing this,” Senior Trooper Thomas said, “Poachers steal opportunities from all Oregonians and it is even more troubling when you see two elk go to waste.”

Poaching impacts wildlife beyond the animals directly taken by disrupting calving, feeding and migration, according to Shane Stenquist, Regional Director for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

“We support and promote legal hunting opportunities for Oregonians as well as legal non-resident hunters, and we stand with ODFW, OSP and our fellow wildlife conservation partners in opposition to poaching of wildlife,” Stenquist said. “If you have information about this or any other instances of poaching, we encourage you to contact the TIP line and help us all strengthen our herds and protect legal, fair chase hunting.”

The elk were taken near Bell Mountain Road approximately 1.5 miles from Gilbert Creek Road. Oregon State Police requests that any person with information about this incident or who saw suspicious activity in the area last week, contact the TIP line and leave information for Senior Trooper Rod Thomas. Individuals may remain anonymous. Contact the Oregon State Police through the Turn in Poachers line at 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (677) TIP E-Mail: TIP@state.or.us (Monitored M-F 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM)

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 reward fund. 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.