The North Carolina Wildlife Federation has raised the stakes in the recent killing of three elk near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Mount Sterling area of Haywood County. Last month the group offered a $5,000 reward. That amount has been bumped significantly to $20,000. The conservation organization has pledged up to the new amount to a person(s) who provides information about the elk killings 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, a cow with a birdshot from a shotgun, and a pregnant cow with a undetermined gunshot. In May of 2011 a bull killed that even had a tag in its ear marked with the number 16.
“We feel strongly that this malicious and cowardly act of illegal activity has no place in NC,” said Tim Gestwicki, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “We are upping the ante to hopefully entice anyone with information to come forth. 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. People come from far and wide to view the elk, significantly supporting local tourism.
“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.”
“We are committed to pursuing all leads as we continue this investigation,” says Colonel Dale Caveny of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement. “We hope that this significant addition to the reward fund will prompt someone to come forward with additional information that will help us bring criminal charges in this case.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission toll free wildlife violations number at 1-800-662-7137. Any awarded monies do not have to be made public to anonymous tips.
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.
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) is an affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation. NCWF works to communicate, cooperate, and partner with the North Carolina General Assembly, state resource agencies, corporations, and other interested groups to advance the well-being of wildlife and its habitat. A 501(c)3 organization, NCWF is dedicated to all of North Carolina’s wildlife and habitat. Additional information is available at our website, www.ncwf.org.