KEENE, N.D. -- The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is seeking the public’s help in connection with an elk-poaching incident near Keene in the northwest part of the state.
According to a post on the department’s Facebook page, two bull elk were shot, most likely sometime the afternoon or evening of Wednesday, Feb. 17, north of Keene near the intersection of 40th Street Northwest and 109th Avenue Northwest.
Joe Lucas, district game warden for the Game and Fish Department in Watford City, said he received a report about the incident the next day after a landowner went out to check on a bull elk that had been spotted lying down. A closer look revealed the elk was dead, Lucas said, and another bull left nearby had had its head removed.
No meat was taken from either bull.
“It’s definitely a waste, with these being a once-in-a-lifetime tag for only residents of North Dakota,” Lucas said Wednesday in a phone interview. “To have two shot and left like that, it’s pretty sad to see.”
The bull with its head intact had a 6x6 rack that likely measures in the 300- to 310-inch range, the warden estimated.
“It’s definitely a respectable bull that I think a lot of people who had a tag would be happy to harvest,” he said.
As of Wednesday, the department didn’t have a suspect in connection with the incident, Lucas said. An item posted Wednesday morning on the Game and Fish Department's Facebook page seeking the public’s help had been shared more than 1,300 times by midday.
Game and Fish kept the carcasses as evidence, but none of the meat was able to be salvaged, Lucas said. What happens with the 6x6 rack remains to be seen.
“Normally, heads like that are kept as evidence until the case is completed,” Lucas said. “As far as what happens with the racks, that’s up to the courts.”
The incident appears to be an isolated case and not part of a pattern, he said.
“We haven’t had any other reports of anything like this up in this area recently,” Lucas said.
Game and Fish is asking anyone with information about the illegal taking of the two bull elk to call the state’s Report All Poachers hotline at (701) 328-9921. Callers can remain anonymous if they choose and are eligible for a reward if a conviction is made based on information they provide.