The recent killing of three elk near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Mount Sterling area of Haywood County, has prompted the North Carolina Wildlife Federation to make a major commitment to help find the perpetrator. The conservation organization has pledged $5,000 to a person who provides information about the elk killing that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, a civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property by the subject or subjects responsible.
The three elk were killed around May 18th, one bull with a .22 caliber firearm and a cow with a birdshot from a shotgun. The third was a pregnant cow elk that was killed with a undetermined gunshot. In May of 2011 there was also a bull killed that even had a tag in its ear marked with the number 16.
“A $5,000 reward will hopefully entice anyone with information to come forth,” said Tim Gestwicki, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “We are providing these resources to underscore the seriousness we place on the poaching of this iconic species.”
The poached elk were part of a reintroduction program by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that began in 2002. Initially 25 elk were brought to Cataloochee Valley where the herd has grown to 140 but have now spread beyond the park boundary.
“We hope the investigation yields results and that the message is crystal clear: poaching elk in North Carolina will not be tolerated,” says Gestwicki. “We condemn in full any illegal wildlife violations and remain resolved to assisting state and federal agencies in upholding the regulations and guiding principles of fish and wildlife management.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission toll free wildlife violations number at 1-800-662-7137.
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation formed in 1945 when sportsmen from around the state worked for the establishment of a science-based wildlife management agency. Those efforts came to fruition when, in 1947, the General Assembly authorized the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to all NC wildlife and its habitat. www.ncwf.org.