Authorities are pursuing leads regarding who illegally shot a bull elk in Dinosaur town limits and took its antlers, leaving its headless carcass behind.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a news release Tuesday that its investigators are looking for two individuals who may have been involved in the incident. The bull, which CPW said Dinosaur residents described as docile, was shot through the abdomen Nov. 6, wandered onto a local ranch and died. Investigators found its carcass two days later.
CPW says a white, 1980s-model Chevrolet pickup with Utah plates and a newer, silver Chevrolet pickup with its license plate obscured by mud may have been involved in the incident. The agency also received information that two individuals were seen in the morning at the spot where the elk died a few hours before authorities found it, and one of them may have been wearing a camouflage-pattern hoodie.
“We've got good vehicle descriptions and extensive evidence recovered from the scene so I don't think it will be long before we find the people responsible, one way or another,” CPW Officer Garrett Smith of Rangely said in the CPW release. “Individuals that commit wildlife crimes like this face very stiff penalties if we have to track them down. Self-reporting is always the better option, and there is still time to do the right thing in this case.”
He said it appears those involved wanted only the elk’s antlers, “which were unusual and distinct.”
“This was a 6 x 5 bull elk, so it is considered a high-quality animal, and they left the meat to waste, meat that could have fed a family for up to a year,” Smith said.
Town of Dinosaur authorities and Moffat County sheriff’s deputies also are involved in the search for those involved in the incident, and Smith said there is significant interest in finding them due to locals’ familiarity with the elk.
“This occurred in Game Management Unit 10, considered a high-quality hunting unit,” he said. “It may take a hunter up to 20 years or more to be eligible to draw a license in the unit so it’s especially egregious. We will do everything we can to bring these people to justice.”
Anyone with information in the case can call the Operation Game Thief tip line at 877-265-6648, where crimes can be reported anonymously in exchange for a monetary reward if an arrest or citation follows. Alternatively, tipsters calling that line can earn hunters preference points, or in some cases the reward of a license in the same unit where a crime occurred, under Colorado’s Turn In Poachers (TIP) program. Tipsters should specify when calling if they prefer to be rewarded under the Operation Game Thief or Turn in Poachers program, CPW says.