FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is asking for the public's help as they investigate the poaching of four female elk near Flagstaff on Saturday.
The poaching occurred around 7:30 a.m. about a quarter mile off of the west side of state Route 89A across from the Oak Creek Vista Overlook on the Coconino National Forest, according to officials.
Evidence discovered at the scene indicates that four cow elks were shot and that the suspect or suspects dragged one of the animals to a silver pickup truck parked on state Route 89A.
The investigating officer found the location where poachers field dressed an elk and then discovered three other dead elk left to rot all within 75 yards of that location.
Hunters in the area when the poaching occurred reported hearing at least 13 gunshots.
Evidence discovered on the side of the road indicates that the suspect vehicle was parked facing north on the southbound shoulder of 89A, facing southbound traffic. Investigators hope this sparks a memory for anyone who drove by the scene.
"This poaching is senseless and the suspects need to be caught," said Wildlife Manager Lee Luedeker. "It's evident that these individuals have no respect for the laws in place to protect Arizona's wildlife. Poaching is stealing from the residents and the state of Arizona."
The animals were killed during an antlerless elk season, which means female elk or young males before they get their antlers. However, hunters can only legally kill one elk per license. It is also illegal to leave the animals to rot.
A reward of up to $5,400 may be available for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).
Anyone with information regarding this case can call the Operation Game Thief Hotline toll free at 1-800-352-0700 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/thief. Callers should provide case number 13-003317. All calls may remain confidential upon request.