VAN BUREN, Mo. — Conservation officials are offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to a conviction after an elk was found illegally shot and killed on Nov. 18.
Agents with the Missouri Department of Conservation found the dead female elk completely intact, according to a statement. However, none of the animal’s parts were salvageable for meat or hide donation by the time the carcass was discovered.
This is not the first time officials have found poached elk in this region. Six elk have been killed over the past several years. None of those cases have led to a successful conviction.
Now, Missouri’s Operation Game Thief is looking to put an end to it by rewarding people who will come forward with information.
“The OGT reward monies have been donated by the public and reflect how much Missourians care about conservation, our native wildlife, and the laws that protect them,” MDC Protection Division Chief Randy Doman said. “We appreciate this strong support to help bring in information that could lead to convictions.”
The $20,000 reward will be given after the first successful conviction in any of these poaching cases.
“Poaching is stealing precious wildlife resources from all Missourians, and this must be stopped,” CFM Executive Director Tyler Schwartze said. “We are offering this reward amount in hopes of finding those responsible for committing these selfish acts.”
Once popular in the 1800s, free-ranging elk were erased from the landscape due to over-hunting. Starting in 2011, the MDC has re-introduced and monitored the growth of an elk population in Southcentral Missouri.
The MDC said it’s looking to implement a limited elk hunting season in 2020.
Anyone with any information related to this investigation report it to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111 or the MDC Ozark Regional Office in West Plains at (417) 256-7161.