BRINNON — State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents are involved in a poaching investigation after two bull elk were killed, with one left to rot, in the Brinnon area in recent weeks.
In the most recent case, reported over the weekend, an elk was shot and killed on private property near the Dosewallips River. The poacher removed the head but left all of the meat behind to rot.
“I told the landowner at the time that this elk herd is a pillar of the community,” said Sgt. Kit Rosenberger of Fish and Wildlife.
“People come to the [Olympic] Peninsula to have an opportunity to view elk and wildlife and Fish and Wildlife — and the tribes — manage the population for lawful harvest,” he continued.
“To see an elk like this that could be lawfully harvested to feed someone’s family to just be wasted is just heartbreaking to see.”
Rosenberger said the elk had been rotting for a few days.
Officers typically try to salvage meat to donate whenever possible, but the meat had already gone bad.
A couple weeks ago an elk was shot and killed on private property near the Brinnon School — less than a mile away. Whoever shot that elk took the head and the meat.
In both instances the private property owners had not given permission to anyone to hunt on their properties and elk are out of season for rifle hunting.
Brinnon is designated under Jefferson County code as a “no shooting area.”
Rosenberger said there is a special hunt in which four archery hunters have permits to hunt in the area.
“We’re looking at a poaching investigation,” he said. “We’ve got a variety of criminal charges we’re investigating.”
He said that whoever is responsible for the killings could face charges for hunting in a closed area, waste of wildlife and a “litany” of other charges.
Rosenberger said poaching is not uncommon on the Olympic Peninsula, but what makes this case unusual is the amount of meat that has been wasted.
“The wastage of the animal doesn’t happen every day,” he said. “That’s out of the ordinary and we take it very seriously.”
Rosenberger said officers collected evidence at the scene and that he is reaching out to anyone who may have any knowledge of what happened.
He said he would appreciate anyone with information about either of the killings to provide a tip by calling the state poaching hotline at 1-877-933-9847.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].