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‘Left to waste’: Wildlife officers investigating 8 deer and elk killed in San Miguel County

Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers are asking the public for help in locating the people responsible for a series of suspected poaching incidents earlier this month. Eight deer and elk were killed within two and a half weeks, leaving the carcasses behind.

Five of the animals were killed within walking distance of roads, according to one Press release CPW.

“All of these animals were found shot and abandoned,” Rachel Sralla, CPW Area Wildlife Manager, said in the press release. “This is a flagrant violation of Colorado’s hunting and fishing laws, which require hunters to prepare game meat for human consumption.”

The incidents occurred within the boundaries of CPW’s Game Management Unit 70. GMU 70 covers parts of San Miguel, Dolores, and Montrose counties. It consists of areas around Telluride and Mt. Sneffels to the east, along County Highway 62, Wrights Mesa and Paradox Valley on the north side, and parallel to Disappointment Creek and Disappointment Valley on the southern border. It extends west to the Colorado-Utah state line. On Oct. 30, CPW investigators were investigating the suspected poaching of a small mule deer buck that had been shot in the higher elevations of Dry Creek Basin and left behind. They were approached by hunters who had found another deer less than a mile away.

CPW District Wildlife Manager Mark Caddy stated in the press release that there was no apparent reason that an ethical hunter would not have collected and tagged these deer and harvested the meat properly.

A bull moose that was shot and left to waste in the Dan Noble State Wildlife Area.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Another mule deer buck was found on November 6 in Dry Creek Basin. It was “within walking distance of the road” and believed to have been killed that day. said Caddy.

That same day, hunters reported that two bull elk had been shot and abandoned in the Dan Noble State Wildlife Area, about 14 miles southwest of Norwood.

A spiny bull moose found shot dead and abandoned in the Callan Draw area southwest of Norwood.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

On November 17, hunters reported that a dead spiny bull moose had been left in the Callan Draw area southwest of Norwood. CPW investigators discovered two cow elk that had also been killed nearby.

Researchers estimate that the animals had been killed a day or two earlier. They also found evidence that the parties who killed the cows initially tried to retrieve the carcasses, but left them behind – and some material, too, which was taken as evidence.

“Any activity that people enjoy usually goes well and participants behave in the appropriate legal, moral and ethical manner,” Caddy stated in the press release. “Sometimes, however, there are one or two people who show up and behave in a way that no one inside or outside the activity can approve of. Apparently, these types of individuals have appeared in GMU 70 during the recent hunting seasons.”

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In all cases, hunters discovered the remains and reported them to CPW.

“The first information about each animal in these cases came from hunters in the field who took the time to call and report something was wrong,” Caddy explained. “These ethical hunters are just as concerned about this happening as we are.”

Anyone with information is requested to contact Operation Game Thief by phone at 877-265-6648 or by email at A $1,000 reward is possible for information leading to an arrest.


Photo 1: A spiny bull moose found shot dead and abandoned is pictured on November 17 in the Callan Draw area southwest of Norwood. Tony Bonacquista/CPW Photos
Photo 2: A bull elk that was shot and abandoned is pictured Nov. 6 at the Dan Noble State Wildlife Area.
Photo 3: A mule deer buck that was shot and abandoned is pictured Oct. 30 in Dry Creek Basin.

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