Missouri woman faces elk poaching charges

By Margaret Slayton St. Joseph News-Press

The Missouri Department of Conservation says a Scott County woman has been charged with illegally shooting an elk and abandoning the carcass with no meat taken.

Deborah Flanigan of Chaffee, Missouri, has been charged with shooting a cow elk in a field at the end of State Highway M in Carter County in south-central Missouri on Nov. 18, 2019, and abandoning the animal.

Randy Doman, MDC protection chief, said conservation agents conducted a lengthy investigation that culminated in interviews with the suspect in late August. The department has issued citations to Flanigan, 50, for the "illegal take of a protected species (elk)" and "wanton waste or abandonment of wildlife or parts thereof commonly used for human consumption." Both charges are misdemeanors.

The investigation began after agents were informed of a dead cow elk in a field near the end of State Highway M on National Park Service property. Agents took pictures and extracted two bullets from the carcass. The bullets were sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory for ballistic testing.

"We are grateful to have made an arrest in this poaching incident," Doman said. "Thanks to the diligence of our conservation agents, along with the assistance of our state and federal law enforcement partners, we were able to identify a suspect and close the case. We look forward to working with the Carter County prosecuting attorney to see this case through to completion."

Elk were reintroduced in the state several years ago, and hunting them has been illegal, as it was when the elk cow was killed last fall. The state's first elk season is set for October.

This case is one of six involving the illegal killing of elk that the department has been investigating. Dorman said the other five investigations are ongoing and MDC is asking for help from the public. There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

"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 people's resources should not be tolerated."

MDC asks that anyone with information regarding the other five cases of elk poaching report it to Operation Game Thief by phone at 800-392-1111 or to contact MDC's Ozark Regional Office in West Plains at 417-256-7161.