Game wardens still hunting for suspect in September
January 17, 2004 — 2:07 a.m.
MONTAGUE — Four months after a pair of bull elk was
illegally shot and killed in Siskiyou County, officials this week turned
to the public for help solving the case, offering a $1,000 reward.
California Department of Fish and Game warden Rennie
Cleland said Friday that he hoped enough time had passed that the suspects
would have boasted about the Sept. 20 poaching.
"I'm hoping they've got their egos satisfied," Cleland
said. "Maybe they've shown off pictures or talked to friends at work
or something like that."
Wardens say the shooting took place on the second to last
day of the Siskiyou elk hunt, and at the very beginning of deer season,
meaning there were potentially thousands of hunters out and about.
Cleland said the elk were shot on private land near the
Little Shasta River east of Montague. The elk carcasses were left at the
scene, though it appeared someone might have tried to move one of them into
a creek bed for processing.
Cleland theorizes that the suspects heard a car
approaching and took off.
The property owner found the carcasses, but didn't spot
any hunters, he said.
The fact that the hunters fled magnitudes the crime,
"It would have really been a pretty mediocre violation had
they just come forward and said, 'We screwed up,' " he said. "But
this is very serious."
Recreational elk hunting is legal if done by the book.
But it's highly competitive.
The department issues 25 permits for the Siskiyou herd
each year. About 1,500 hunters apply.
"It's very popular," said Fish and Game wildlife biologist
At least 250 to 300 elk live in the Siskiyou herd between
Interstate 5 and Highway 97, he said. The elk migrated into California on
their own in the mid-1960s and have established a healthy herd here, he
Elk once spread all over the north state, but declined due
to unregulated hunting. Populations have been re-established with human help
in the Marble Mountains and Trinity Alps.
About one million elk live in North America, including 24
states. They thrive in coastal forests, alpine meadows, desert valleys and
mountain ranges, according to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
They weigh anywhere from 500 to 1,000 pounds, Callas said.
They feed on grasses and woody plants.
Poaching has occurred in the past, but this is a
particularly egregious case, said Cleland.
"They had no regard for the animals at all," he said.
If caught, the suspects could face misdemeanor charges
punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail.
Reporter Alex Breitler can be reached at 225-8344 or at
[email protected] .