Someone illegally killed three of the majestic tule elk in the Central Valley in late September, and a state deer hunting group is stamping mad about it. The California Deer Association has offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the miscreants.
The shootings took place on September 20 or 21 near Los Banos, and whoever was responsible killed three bull elk. All three were left to rot.
Tule elk, native only to California, are the smallest elk subspecies in North America. Once phenomenally abundant in the state, the elk were thought to be extinct in the early 1870s. A single breeding pair was found still surviving in 1874 in present-day Kern County, and that pair now has about 4,000 great-great-great grandfawns roaming in protected areas throughout the state.
The reward is being offered by the statewide office of the California Deer Association and its Gustine Chapter.
"The individual or individuals who committed these crimes are stealing wildlife from all Californians -- from nonhunters and hunters alike," said CDA President Jerry Springer. "The person or persons who committed these crimes are not hunters -- they are poachers and criminals, and we expect them to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
The group is urging that anyone with information on the shootings call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at its Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) hotline: (888) 334-2258.