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Nevada authorities seeking leads in poaching incident

A $20,000 reward has been established for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for killing eight mule deer in hunt unit 262, on Mount Charleston late last year.

The incident, which occurred over the course of three weeks last September, is considered an illegal act of poaching, which is a felony in Nevada.

Officials with the Department of Wildlife said game wardens discovered several kill sites and believe all the incidents are related, although they haven’t ruled out multiple shooters.

In a few incidents, a small amount of meat or the antlers were taken, but the vast majority of the animals were left intact, wasting all the meat, which is a separate crime in itself.

The deer were identified as bucks, does and at least one yearling.

“I literally do not have the words to fully explain my disgust at this crime. It takes a special kind of person to illegally kill eight mule deer and then to leave them to rot,” said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed. “I know I am not alone in my anger and that’s why we are asking the public for its help in solving this case.”

Nevada Department of Wildlife Public Information Officer Ed Lyngar said several Nevada sportsman groups came up with the reward money.

“They have been talking to us about why we haven’t been able to generate any leads on this,” Lyngar said. “They all got together about a month ago and came up with some more reward money, which is now up to $20,000. That is a significant amount of money obviously. We have no leads at all. When the first reward went out, I think it was in the neighborhood of $17,000. We received a few phone calls but nothing really panned out.”

What they’re saying

Lyngar also said game wardens have reason to believe the responsible party may be a Pahrump resident, due to the circumstances and time of the act.

He noted that each deer was shot and dropped right where they were where all of the carcasses were left to waste.

He considered the act as an outrageous waste of resources.

“It’s just a hunch and we thought that if we reached out to the community of Pahrump, we could possibly generate some leads on this,” he said. “The crime of unlawfully killing a deer is a felony, and there’s a second crime of letting the carcasses go to waste. Poaching is a felony and it carries between one and four years in jail, along with thousands of dollars in fines, as well as civil penalties that can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars for a trophy animal, so it’s not a small penalty.”

Additionally, Lyngar said responsible game hunters always acquire the proper documents and permits, prior to their hunting excursions.

The documents include hunting licenses and pricey tags.

He noted that hunters cannot legally shoot big game animals without a tag.

“When we sell tags such as the Silver State Tag or the Governor’s Tag, they can go upward of 10, 15 or more than $20,000,” he said. “The tag says that you are allowed to shoot a male animal or a female animal at a particular location only. They are very restrictive. In Nevada, you buy a hunting license, and that hunting license gives you permission to hunt certain species like chukar or with the duck stamp, you have permission to hunt ducks.”

Past hunter?

Lyngar also suspects that the person responsible for the poaching incident may have been a hunter in the past.

“This was not a sportsman-like hunt, because sportsman really care about the resources,” he said. “Most of Nevada’s hunters are very ethical, because they consume what they kill and they only kill legally. There is a vast difference between an ethical hunter and a poacher. It could be that this person has never shot an animal legally, so they go out and shoot anything that moves. We call that thrill killing. Every once in a while we see it happen over the years.”

After ethical hunters bag their game, Lyngar said by and large, they all use the same methods to process the animal.

“Hunters really have the techniques dialed-in regarding field dressing, skinning, and quartering the animal,” he noted. “Many people will take the animal to a butcher where they process it just like any other kind of animal. The meat is at the core, and it’s sustainable. Obviously, it has no antibiotics in it and you can fill your freezer and actually eat for six months. It’s also great for the environment. Everything about legal hunting is healthy and sustainable. We really promote it very strongly. These animals have tremendous value.”

Lyngar also recalled a similar incident which also took place last year.

“There was another deer that was killed a few months after that poaching incident,” he recalled. “The buck had four points of antlers on each side. The head was removed as a trophy, but the person apparently got spooked and left the carcass there. We are looking for information on that. We also had a couple of deer that were shot in Elko, Nevada.

“We are getting 60-to-70 of these instances each year,” he said. “We are used to one or two animals a year. The reason this was so outrageous was because it was eight animals all at once. Those deer were mixed and there were a couple of what you would consider very nice mature bucks. A couple of them were does and there was even a yearling. There was just no rhyme or reason for it.”

In summing up his thoughts on the poaching incident, Lyngar called the act asinine.

“When I personally encounter this kind of crime, I am sickened by the senselessness of it and the waste,” he said. “People wait a long time to acquire tags to hunt these kinds of animals, and the opportunities are being stolen from them. People love the meat and you have thousands of pounds of meat going to waste.”

Anyone with information on the crime, or other similar wildlife crime incidents, can call Operation Game Thief (OGT), at 1-800-992-3030.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com, on Twitter: @pvtimes

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