Two bull elk were illegally killed and left lying mostly intact last week in McKenzie County, according to state wildlife officials who are investigating.
No meat was taken from either animal, but the head of one elk was cut off, according to Region 3 Warden Supervisor Doug Olson. The bull that was left intact had six points on each side of its rack and was of respectable size, officials said.
“I presume the other one was bigger,” Olson said.
It's unclear if the bull would have qualified as a trophy but "he was by no means a little guy," District Game Warden Joe Lucas said.
"I think most people would be pretty happy to harvest a bull that size," he said.
A taxidermist can’t legally mount a big game head without documentation that it was legally taken.
The elk were found about a mile north and a mile east of the McKenzie County Road 55 roundabout north of Keene, Olson said. Authorities believe they were shot in the afternoon or evening of Feb. 17.
An elk tag is a prized draw for North Dakota resident hunters, who can shoot only one elk in a lifetime in the state. To have two mature bulls shot and left to waste is “pretty sad to see,” Lucas said.
Shooting an elk out of season is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail and a $3,000 fine. Lesser misdemeanor charges of wanton waste and hunting without a tag also could be filed, Lucas said. A violator also could be made to pay restitution to the state and could lose hunting privileges, Lucas said.
Investigators are still following up on leads, Olson said. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Lucas at 701-770-0082. Information can be left anonymously through the Report All Poachers program by calling 701-328-9921.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com