British Columbia

Elk poaching in B.C. alarms conservation officers

B.C. conservation officers are growing frustrated with the senseless killing of elk in the B.C. Interior and on Vancouver Island.

Elk found dead in various areas of the Cowichan Valley and the Kootenays

A photo shows one of two mature elk shot and left on Mt Sentinel North Forest Service Road near Castlegar last month. (Ministry of Environment)

B.C. conservation officers are growing frustrated with the senseless killing of elk in the B.C. Interior and on Vancouver Island.

Last month, someone shot into a herd of elk near Baynes Lake, south of Fernie, dropping three cow elk and leaving them to die.

Conservation officer Frank DeBoon told CBC News that he’s never seen anything like it in his 26 years as a conservation officer.

"The elk were all in good health, probably pregnant with this year's calves. There's no reason for it other than somebody deciding to shoot them."

Now it’s happened again, this time on a remote logging road near Castlegar

Earlier this month, a man collecting firewood on Mount Sentinel Forest Service Road spotted carrion birds circling, a sure sign of death. When he went to the area, he found two dead bull elk.

Conservation officer Blair Thin said it appeared the animals were shot for no reason, and out of season.

"Nothing had been removed from the animals and they appear to have been shot from the road," Thin said.

"I can’t fathom the motivation for someone doing such a thing but it’s an extreme waste."

Vancouver Island's Cowichan Valley has also seen similar poaching, where the remains of seven elk killed by poachers were discovered in February and March.

In some of those cases, meat was removed from the animals.

The rash of elk killings has alarmed conservation officers because of public-safety risks and the potential for long-term health issues for the elk populations.

Officers say these kinds of crimes in remote areas are difficult to solve unless someone talks about what they’ve done and it is reported to authorities.

The B.C. Wildlife Federation is offering rewards up to $5,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone arrested for poaching.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating and The Canadian Press