Game Warden Chronicles: Info Sought for Poached Sturgeon, Bighorn Ram

In the latest game warden chronicles, a $3,500 reward is offered for information leading to a citation or arrest in the case of a bighorn sheep poached at Oregon's Wenaha Wildlife Area in late January.

Game Warden Chronicles: Info Sought for Poached Sturgeon, Bighorn Ram

White sturgeon are found in rivers in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Oregon and Idaho. This white sturgeon was part of research at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Sturgeon Center at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. (Photo: Oregon DFW)

Ever hear about a crazy arrest by game wardens and wonder why someone did what they did?

Game warden reports from state conservation departments always are a source for a few laughs and head-scratching moments. Take a look at some of these selections from around the country.

A reward of $3,500 is being offered by the Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) for information leading to a citation or arrest in the case of a bighorn sheep poached at Wenaha Wildlife Area in late January.

Yamhill, Josephine, Bend, Umpqua, and Rogue Valley Chapters of the OHA have contributed $500 each to the state's Turn In Poachers (TIP) Fund. The poaching was first announced by OSP in late January. A severed ear and damaged GPS collar were all that were found after the bighorn sheep was poached near Troy. The GPS collar transmitted that the animal had died on Jan. 26.

The severed ear, which has an identification tag, is from an adult ram. The GPS tracking collar, which was programmed to indicate mortality if it didn’t move for nine hours, had been cut loose from around the animal’s neck. Both were found lying on the ground near a feeding station. Forensics evidence indicates the animal was shot, according to Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Chris Hawkins.

When ODFW Wildlife Technician Sharon Curtis went to investigate a mortality signal from the GPS collar, she expected to find a sheep carcass. Instead she found the collar, which had been cut, and the ear with tag still intact. Melted snow had flattened the grass, but she could see where the carcass had been dragged toward the road. She found two spots of blood and several tufts of fur below the collar.

In 2018, the most recent year for which statistics have been compiled, three bighorn sheep are known to have been poached. Others likely were poached but either were not found or lacked evidence of a crime. 

The Oregon’s Stop Poaching Campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, land owners and recreationists to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line and protect reduce poaching.

N.C. Wildlife Seeking Info on Gator Poacher

Enforcement officers with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are seeking the public’s assistance in locating the person(s) responsible for killing an alligator in Sunset Beach.

A male alligator was found dead in the Twin Lakes are by a Sunset Beach resident. The alligator measured 12 feet, 10 inches, and biologists estimate its age at more than 50 years old.

While a necropsy was not performed, Officer Matt Criscoe said the alligator appeared to have been shot.

Anyone who heard gunfire or any loud noises in the Twin Lakes area in the last few days or who has information about the poached alligator is asked to visit the agency’s WILDTIP page or contact the Wildlife Commission’s NC WILDTIP number, 1-855-WILDTIP. All tips remain anonymous and citizens providing information about this offense that results in a conviction is eligible for a reward up to $1,000.

Idaho Officials Seek Sturgeon Poacher

Idaho Department of Game and Fish officials are investigating a poaching incident after a sturgeon carcass was found in the Boise River.

Agency officials received the report of a  6-foot carcass near a bridge on March 3. Only the head and fins remained.

White sturgeon are a protected species in Idaho. Anglers who catch them must release them safely without removing them from the water.

Too Loud, Not Smart

On Feb. 22, while patrolling the San Jacinto River for fishing license violations in eastern Montgomery County, Texas Parks & Wildlfe game wardens for San Jacinto and Montgomery County heard a gunshot that sounded extremely close.

After looking at a map, they noticed a pipeline about 50 yards away. As they made their way down the pipeline, the wardens noticed a pickup and ATV tucked away into the woods. While approaching the pickup, they witnessed two individuals tucking things into the toolbox of the truck.

It appeared they had interrupted what was about to be a hunt without consent case. A bag of hog-wild attractant was found in the toolbox as well as a shotgun with buckshot and a rifle with a thermal scope. The ATV had been reported stolen out of Liberty County in 2018, so it was seized for further investigation.

The registered owner of the ATV listed a guide on his hunting lease as his primary suspect. The guide just happened to be the same individual who was in possession of the ATV. Charges are pending.

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