Pair left 5 elk to rot after shooting herd: OR officials


An Oregon couple fired dozens of shots at a fleeing herd of elk, leaving five of the animals to rot, officials say. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)


As a herd of about 100 elk fled across open terrain in Oregon, witnesses say they saw a car veer off the road across sagebrush to pursue them, wildlife officials say.

The driver stopped the car twice and fired dozens of shots in Harney County, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement Thursday, July 14.

The occupants of the car, however, did not retrieve all of the elk they shot Dec. 11, officials said. Instead, they marked two elk for the taking and left five elk to rot, including two calves, two cows and a spiked bull.

Now, a Hines couple have been sentenced to jail time, fines and suspended hunting licenses, officials said.

Brian Wolfer, ODFW’s big game program manager, said there were “so many facets of wrongdoing in this case”.

“These individuals acted in blatant disregard of elk, hunting laws and basic hunting ethics,” Wolfer said in the statement. “To chase the momentum with a vehicle and then leave five momentum to waste because they didn’t check to see what they may have hit is almost unbelievable.”

Duane Dungannon, state coordinator and editor of the Oregon Hunters Association magazine, echoed that sentiment, saying it’s a terrible shame to see elk “unnecessarily wasted like this.”

“Any ethical and responsible hunter knows that you only shoot one animal and then follow that animal. This is not a video game,” Dungannon said in the statement.

Department soldiers collected evidence confirming that a car drove about 300 yards into the sagebrush, stopped to shoot at the herd and continued to pursue the animals, officials said. The car drove another 400 meters and stopped again to fire into the herd. After loading two elk into the car, they drove off.

“All five elk had been abandoned and the meat was not salvageable,” officials said.

When the soldiers confronted the husband about the elk that had been shot and left abandoned during a traffic violation stop, he told them that no one in his party had looked for the animals” because no one in his group had time,” according to officials.

The husband was “convicted of taking elk out of season”, as well as “exceeding the elk bag limit”, officials said. The wife pleaded guilty to aiding/counselling in a gambling violation.

As part of the couple’s grief, officials said, the husband is to write a letter of apology which will be published in the Burns Times-Herald. To regain hunting rights after a three-year suspension period, the couple will have to take “hunter education courses”.

The husband was sentenced to “six days in jail, 18 months probation and prohibited from participating in any hunting activity, including as a spotter or mentor, for three years,” officials said.

The couple must also pay $2,500 in costs and restitution, officials say

“Each hunter is responsible for every shot he fires,” the ODFW sergeant said. Erich Timko said in a statement. “And hunters have a responsibility to make a reasonable effort to track and recover potentially injured wildlife. This is an excellent example of where this is not done.

Harney County is about 300 miles southeast of Eugene.

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