The Missouri Department of Conservation hopes the public can help identify who shot and killed a female adult elk Monday on National Park Service property near the end of M Highway in Carter County.
No meat or other parts of the animal were taken. By the time the dead cow elk was found by conservation agents, the meat was no longer salvageable for donation.
This is the sixth elk killed by poachers over the past several years, according to MDC. That number doesn't include a bull elk shot by mistake during deer season by a 14-year-old hunter in 2017.
MDC Protection Division Chief Randy Doman said investigations into each incident are ongoing. He emphasized the importance of public cooperation in bringing those responsible to justice.
“The restoration of elk in Missouri is appreciated by many people, businesses and organizations in the area,” Doman said. “A healthy, growing elk population brings significant economic, recreational and cultural benefits to these communities. The senseless waste of the people’s resources should not be tolerated.”
MDC agents are asking that anyone with any information related to this investigation report it to Operation Game Thief at 800-392-1111 or the MDC Ozark Regional Office in West Plains at 417-256-7161.
Elk were once found throughout most of the state, but by the mid-1880s, market hunting had erased any trace of free-ranging elk from the Missouri landscape.
From 2011 through 2013, MDC reintroduced 108 elk captured in Kentucky onto Peck Ranch Conservation Area in the Missouri Ozarks. These elk formed the base of Missouri’s current free-ranging elk herd of nearly 200 animals in parts of Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties.
Their numbers have grown enough that MDC is contemplating the first legal elk hunt in Missouri in the fall of 2020.