The hunt is on for two individuals suspected of illegally killing a bull elk last week in Game Management Unit 2, which is a limited, high-quality hunting unit located in northwest Moffat County.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is asking the public for help in identifying the two suspects.
On Sept. 25, a witness to the incident called local CPW officer Jeffrey Goncalves to report what appeared to be a wounded bull elk east of the intersection of Moffat County Roads 67 and 68, on the northern end of the Sand Wash Basin.
The witness also observed two men in a pickup near the wounded bull. The truck is described as a gray, early-90s Ford half-ton, extended cab, with large mud flaps and possibly a missing tailgate.
The following day, Goncalves located an elk's gut-pile in the same area. Further investigation at the scene revealed substantial evidence that Goncalves says will help determine who may be responsible.
"Whoever commits any wildlife crime has the opportunity to do the right thing and turn themselves in immediately, and we will take that into account when determining charges," said Goncalves. "Charges in a case like this can be substantial and penalties may include prison, the loss of their hunting and fishing privileges in 48 states and several thousand dollars in fines."
The bull was estimated to be a 300-inch class, 6x6 bull. When bull elk of this size are poached, fines may include a $10,000 'trophy-penalty,' in addition to standard penalties for the illegal take and possession of wildlife.
A bull elk license in GMU 2 is considered one of Colorado's most coveted high-quality hunting opportunities. Hunters wanting to hunt that unit may wait up to a quarter-century or longer to compile enough points to draw a bull elk license in this unit.
"This takes what is essentially a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity away from legal, ethical hunters," said Goncalves. "It's infuriating and very unfair to ethical hunters and that is one of the primary reasons CPW officers work so hard to bring violators to justice."
Anyone providing useful information and willing to testify in this case may qualify to receive a prized bull elk license in GMU 2 through CPW's Turn In Poachers program. Also, people can remain anonymous by utilizing the Operation Game Thief program. Rewards are available if the information leads to an arrest or citation.
To provide information about this case, call 877-265-6648. Verizon cell phone users can dial #OGT, or send an email to email@example.com . Callers must specify the type of reward they are interested in Operation Game Thief, or Turn In Poachers.