Wildlife enforcement agents are overwhelmed by the staggering number of moose poaching cases in Eastern Washington and North Idaho this fall.
“It’s incredible; absolutely bizarre,” said Steve Agte, Panhandle enforcement chief for the Idaho Fish and Game Department. “We had 14 moose poaching cases in the Panhandle last year, but this year since elk season opened we’ve confirmed 22 cases and the number may be 25.”
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department confirmed two more illegally killed moose in the Thompson Creek drainage east of Mount Spokane last weekend.
“The two bulls were taken in the same general vicinity of the two cows that were killed earlier in the fall,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.
In addition, the department is investigating moose poaching cases in Pend Oreille and Stevens counties, including one trophy bull with a antlers spanning 49 inches.
“In 25 years with the agency, Agent Rod Bliss said he’s never seen anything like this wanton waste,” Luers said. “In every case here in Washington, the moose has been shot and left. These aren’t even hungry people looking for meat. Apparently some people are just tooling around and dropping them from the road.”
Statewide, Idaho estimates that 50 moose were illegally killed last year compared with 542 taken legally by licensed hunters. In Washington, only nine permits are issued each year for the once-in-a-lifetime hunt.
Both state agencies are desperately seeking tips from people who might have information on these cases. Both states offer rewards for anonymous tips that lead to convictions.
In Washington, where the rewards can total $1,200, call (800) 477-6224.
In Idaho, call (800) 632-5999.