POACHING – With $9,000 in reward money on the table, enforcement officers for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife continue to search for the poacher or poachers who gunned down five elk in a canyon near Ellensburg last month.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation has pledged $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case adding to the reward funds pledged immediately after the incident by Northwest Chapter of Safari Club International, $1,000, and Conservation Northwest, $3,000.
Here's the latest from WDFW:
The elk – four yearlings and a full-grown cow – were discovered by two hunters in Schnebly Canyon north of town and reported to the department Nov. 6. All of the animals were killed illegally in violation of area hunting rules.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call WDFW's Poaching Hotline at (877) 933-9847 or text tips to WDFWTIP Report and send them to 847411.
Bob Weaver, WDFW enforcement captain in Yakima, declined to comment on the specifics of the investigation, except to say that the reward fund greatly improves the department's chances of catching those responsible for the crime.
"This is one of the worst poaching cases I've ever seen, and the reward money provides a big incentive for people to come forward and tell us what they know about it," he said.
For its part, WDFW is offering 10 bonus points for special permit hunts to anyone providing information leading to a conviction.
Weaver noted that the person or persons responsible for the killings could be charged with a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. He noted that poachers found guilty in these cases often face civil penalties, including the value of the elk.