Throw the Book at Bull Elk Poacher

Content Image


A bull elk was recently found dead along the Current River in Shannon County. It was shot and only its antlers were taken. Whoever is responsible for poaching this magnificent animal must be caught, tried, convicted and handed the harshest sentence law allows.

Poachers are a scourge upon society. Their disregard for the wildlife they blatantly steal from you and I is reprehensible. They selfishly disparage our wildlife resources while laughing in the face of the law, knowing that current poaching fines and sentences in Missouri are so minimal, they’re basically not worth worrying about.

State Representative Linda Black (Park Hills) understands the importance of wildlife in our state. She co-chairs the Legislative Sportsman’s Caucus and is working on drafting legislation to increase penalties for poachers. She knows this problem needs to be addressed. Her bill has not yet been filed, but it will include enforcing much higher civil penalties for poaching. She is considering fines of two- or three-thousand dollars for poaching an elk or bear.

A recent Missourinet article quoted Representative Black as saying, “We are trying to enhance the elk population and the wild bear population to possibly have hunting seasons, but if we have people poaching those, that’s going to mean that those publicly entrusted animals or species are not able to be harvested in a legal way for those people who do abide by the rules.”

Once the bill is filed and starts making its way through the legislative process, I hope citizens will support it by letting their elected officials know that they like the idea of much stiffer penalties for poachers.

Hunters must be the most vocal advocates for punishing poachers. When someone kills wildlife outside the bounds of law, it is a horrible reflection on hunters, because the general population often has trouble separating poachers from hunters. And too often, the mainstream media hurts hunters by blaming them for the actions of poachers, even if it is an accidental mistake.

You’ve likely read a headline that says something like, “Hunter Shoots Deer in Park.” Well, no, a poacher shot a deer in the park. The two words are not interchangeable. Think of it like this. If you walk into your bank and withdraw money you are a customer. If you walk into a bank with a gun and demand money, you are a robber. There is a big difference between taking legally and taking illegally. Hunters take legally. Poachers take illegally.

Hunters must do everything we can to publicly attack the practice of poaching. If you know a poacher who is breaking game laws, it’s your responsibility to turn them in. You can do so completely anonymously through Operation Game Thief or your local conservation agent.

The poaching of this elk hurts the people in the area around the Elk Restoration Zone. Many of the local residents take great pride in the elk, and the local communities of Ellington, Van Buren and Eminence are seeing an influx of economic gain from tourists who come to view the elk and listen to the bulls bugle in the fall. This act of poaching is a punch in the gut of all those who have quickly learned to love the elk herd.

Eric Mansfield is a local resident and conservationist who photographed the dead elk. He said, “Seeing this partially decapitated carcass, I felt almost physically ill. I thought of those that will no longer hear him bugle, see him stride through our woods and fields. I thought of the hunter that in some future date might have harvested him legally—proudly displaying the head and serving the meat. I thought, or at least hoped, that as a community we are better than this.”

Hunters hold the experience of fair chase in their hearts. Hunters conduct themselves ethically, by following game laws, practicing conservation and by embracing the privilege we have to pursue game and fish in this state. Anyone breaking these game laws is a not hunter, they are a poacher and we hunters need to take a stand and fight to end the rampant practice of poaching.

A reward fund has been created for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poacher. At the time of this writing, that fund is already over $4,000. To learn more about the reward or to donate to the reward fund, visit the Conservation Federation website at Anyone with information about the elk poacher should contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


CFM doubled the reward for the poached elk and is taking donations to increase the reward.


Previous Post


Next Post
Mushitz Ringnecks...