State officials are seeking the public’s help after a second poaching incident in less than a month near Townsend.
In the latest case, someone shot a bull elk southeast of Townsend and cut off its head, leaving the meat to rot.
“We’re thinking it was probably in the Sunday to Monday timeframe,” said Rob Aldridge, a game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “I think it was a pretty big bull, based on the body size. It would have been a heck of an animal for a legitimate hunter to take.
“It’s really a shame that this happened. It gives actual hunters and sportsmen a bad name, when they didn’t have anything to do with this.”
The poaching of the bull occurred about 25 days after someone illegally shot a bighorn ram and left the entire carcass west of Townsend. Aldridge said wardens were notified of the dead sheep Aug. 14, and found the 2-year-old ram on the Indian Creek lime plant property.
What was particularly devastating about the poaching was that the bighorn sheep herd in the Elkhorns is just starting to recover from a major die-off in the area from pneumonia.
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“This ram had been born since then and survived all that,” Aldridge said. “He was healthy until people decided to shoot him and leave him lying there. Why someone would do that is something I just can’t understand.”
Aldridge said that anyone with information on either poaching incident should call 1-800-TIP-MONT. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward; typically it’s up to $1,000, but it may be even more in these cases.
“We really need help from the public, particularly with the sheep,” Aldridge said. “We don’t have as much information as we would like to have at this point.”