Circ activation contest

Poachers leave a wake of carcasses, orphans

Cow moose killed in Little Belts last month
2012-11-27T00:00:00Z 2012-11-27T11:07:17Z Poachers leave a wake of carcasses, orphansBy EVE BYRON Independent Record Helena Independent Record
November 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A rash of poaching incidents this fall in central Montana is prompting officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to ask for the public’s help in finding the responsible parties.

On Monday, FWP released a photograph of two moose calves standing over the body of their dead mother, which was killed near the top end of Belt Park Road in the Little Belt Mountains in the early morning hours of Oct. 25.

That incident came on the heels of three elk slaughtered and left for dead this fall north of Whitehall; a bull elk shot in Jefferson County and one southeast of Townsend, both with their antlers removed; an illegally shot bighorn ram that was left to rot west of Townsend in the Elkhorn Mountains; and a 6-by-6 bull elk shot and left to rot on private land in the North Hills in Helena.

In addition, numerous deer were shot and left in the field in the Flathead and Bitterroot this year.

“It seems like there’s been an exceptional amount of poaching this fall,” said Jim Kropp, chief law enforcement officer for FWP. “Clearly these people are not hunters; they’re killers and destroyers of our wild resources. They’re basically thrill kills.”

FWP game warden Rob Aldridge said he’s still working on the elk and bighorn sheep cases near Townsend, as well as the elk left to rot on private property off of Applegate Drive.

“Unfortunately, we still don’t have a lot of information on those cases,” Aldridge said. “I know there are people out there who know exactly what happened; we just hope they’ll come forward.

Anyone with information on any case is urged to call 1-800-TIPMONT. Typically, rewards of up to $1,000 are available for a conviction, but in some cases — as with the dead moose — private citizens offer additional rewards. Informants are kept confidential.

Bruce Auchly, an FWP spokesman, said the photograph of the moose was taken on a cellphone by game warden Kelly Friede as he investigated the incident.

Auchly said that even though the moose calves were young for the year, they had been weaned from the cow moose and should be able to make it on their own. FWP prefers to let wild animals remain wild instead of capturing them and possibly getting them desensitized to humans, so the orphans were left alone.

“Typically animals, by the fall, whether they’re younger deer, elk or moose, are able to survive on their own,” Auchly said. “But this is a sad deal.”

Reporter Eve Byron: 447-4076, or

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. tacoshmitty
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    tacoshmitty - November 28, 2012 7:50 am
    steeline- Your conspiracy theories about FWP are ridiculous.Are you attempting to justify these wasteful killings because someone is frustrated? For the most part there are more elk now than there have been in years and the mighty road hunters who complain that numbers are down need to leave there truck every once in awhile. Frustrated or not there is no excuse for pointless poaching.
  2. tolerant
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    tolerant - November 27, 2012 5:02 pm
    Steeline what's the deal with your rant about FWP? Underfunded, understaffed and you're blaming them somehow? Don't buy the permit or maybe, just maybe scout the area prior to purchase.

    As for the story sad very sad that these folks think this is "fun." Have another beer, light that cigarette and shoot out the window. Wonder where all the animals have gone? Look no further than stories like this.
  3. djranney
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    djranney - November 27, 2012 2:08 pm
    This is horrible. It's one thing to kill an animal for food. It's outrageous however, when someone kills an animal for either a trophy or "just because." The killers of these animals can't receive harsh enough punishment.
  4. FlamingLiberal1
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    FlamingLiberal1 - November 27, 2012 11:52 am
    So much pathos in that photo of the orphaned moose calves! Poor babies! I don't understand people shooting something and then wantonly wasting the meat. Poaching to feed one's family is understandable. Slaughtering animals and leaving the carcasses to rot, maybe taking the antlers? So disgusting.
  5. JMWB
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    JMWB - November 27, 2012 10:24 am
    Plus someone killed 2 of the Sieben Ranch guard dogs right in Canyon Creek this past weekend.
    Not sure where all the deer and elk went off too, this summer there were plenty hanging around west of CC, and this was after most of the Granite Butte wolf pack was killed off. But they seemed to vanish before archery.
  6. deputy742
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    deputy742 - November 27, 2012 10:17 am
  7. steeline
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    steeline - November 27, 2012 9:16 am
    I sense that there is frustration with those who go into the field and call themselves hunters. Why would there be so many wasted animals? The FWP is behind the eight ball right now with a lot of guys. I think it has to do with revenue collections from licenses and permits. They are "merchandising" special permits and licenses by the thousands for areas that don't have the game to fill the tags or the access to hunt the animals. I am in the field pretty much every week at least a day or two during the hunting season and I have had conversations with a lot of guys out hunting. Pretty much all of them say that the game population is down. Especially in the Helena area. There are more deer in Helena than on the entire Sieben and Grady ranch put together. In those areas the FWP has given out doe tags that far exceed the dear population as well as allowing either sex elk harvests. I am sure there are other areas that have the same problem. Over perminting an area with low animal counts and restricted access is just a way to get more revenue for FWP. It won't work for me next year. I am not going to buy or apply for anymore special permits or licenses unless someone can prove to me that there are sufficient numbers of animals to harvest. I think we are being scammed by FWP when they over permit for any game specie. This sensless killing of animals has to stop no matter what the motivation is. A steeper penalty has to be established as a deterent for this kind of behavior.
  8. Curmudgeon
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    Curmudgeon - November 27, 2012 9:00 am
    In a family newspaper, you can't print what this sort of person should be called.

    Is it okay to just use "AH-word"?
  9. 5thgen
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    5thgen - November 27, 2012 12:38 am
    This is nothing but a stupid waste of animals, I hope someone out there comes forward and helps these wardens put this scum behind bars and makes them pay thousands of dollars in fines. Call Tip Mont if you don't want to give your name, even if your not sure what you saw was anything illegal, it just maybe the tip the wardens need. Thanks

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