This season, a total of 11 elk have been found illegally shot by poachers near Port Alberni, B.C., according to the province’s Ministry of Environment. These animals were moved to the area around five years ago to help create a sustainable population for the area First Nations. Three of the elk were discovered after the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council offered $25,000 reward for the poachers’ arrest.
While it’s believed that multiple parties are behind the poaching, it’s unknown why the elks are being killed.
Some of the elks were found with missing antlers, butchered, or missing limbs.
Larry Johnson, director of the Lands and Natural Resources Committee for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, told the CBC he believes that the poachers are experienced because the best cuts of meat were sliced from the elk.
“These are like expert people who know what they’re doing because they aren’t cleaning them like you would if you were on a normal hunt. It’s like they know how to dislocate and pull off a hind quarter in seconds, minutes,” says Johnson.
According to Johnson, many times only 25 percent of the meat was taken. The carcasses were left behind, sometimes in bushes.
“A lot more people could have been fed with it. These people are taking it, selling it, something like that.”
The elk poaching is especially appalling to Johnson because the animals are considered sacred to many First Nations. Since the reward was announced, the tribal council has received an outpouring of tips and believes eventually the poachers will be caught.
Some studies suggest that in British Columbia, poachers kill as many fish and wildlife as properly licensed hunters kill each year. Because of this, the illegal actions of poachers gravely affect natural populations while tarnishing lawful, recreational hunting.
The maximum penalty for a first offence conviction under the B.C. Wildlife Act is a $50,000 fine or up to six months in prison. If you have any information, you can call the Report All Poachers and Polluters Tip Line at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277), or send a report online. You can also call Chief Councillor Hugh Braker at 250-735-9888.