On October 20th 2016 I received a call from a concerned citizen. He was up early, looking out his window, watching a suspicious vehicle. When he saw the red flatbed pickup truck dragging a mature dead bull elk he knew a violation was occurring. Unit 62 was only open for spike elk.
I got to my truck as fast as I could, and called the Teton County Sheriff’s Office for assistance. The Deputies were already looking for the suspect vehicle when I got to the field. I quickly located a drag trail and gut pile, but the red flatbed pickup was gone.
As I was leaving the area another citizen flagged me down. “You looking for a bull elk?” He asked and then he explained he saw a red flatbed with a bull elk in Tetonia. He also identified the driver.
At this point I knew we had some good information. How many red flatbed trucks with elk could there be? I went to the suspect’s house; there was a red flatbed pickup and a dead bull elk. The suspect and his friend, both local high school students, were caring for the meat (I’ve left the suspects’ name out of this article intentionally since they were both minors). They were adamant that they had killed the elk in the legal unit, Unit 65. They were so convincing that I kind of believed them. But then again “How many red flatbed pickups with bull elk could there be?” I told them it looked suspicious and that I would like to take a DNA sample from their elk and compare it to the gut pile. They assured me it wouldn’t match.
I continued my investigation. If the DNA matched then I had my guys, in the meantime, I would keep working.
I then received a call from another concerned citizen. She witnessed the suspects October 20th with the elk placing them near the scene. This third concerned citizen’s information matched the suspect’s activities. I went back and interviewed them a second time. Again, they denied killing the elk. But the pressure was building.
I explained that I was sending DNA off to the lab, and would seek restitution from the guilty party. A few days later I received a call from a local defense attorney telling me the suspects were ready to talk.
In the end, we recovered the elk; the offenders received fines and revocations and paid the State restitution. Without the public this case would’ve gone unsolved, so please “Make The Call” to Citizen’s Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999. You can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.