Spooner, Wisconsin – Conservation Wardens are investigating the shooting of a cow elk on the Chequamegon National Forest 12 miles west of Clam Lake on Saturday. The person who shot the animal turned himself in to the Department of Natural Resources claiming he mistook the animal for a large deer.
The elk was shot at about 50 yards with a 12 gauge shot gun and wildlife officials estimated the animal’s weight to be about 350 pounds. State Big Game Specialist Bill Mytton said it is unfortunate that this incident occurred.
“An adult breeding cow is one of the most valuable elements of the herd,” he said, “and it is a tragedy that we lost one.” The incident occurred during the antlerless only Zone T deer hunt that began on Oct. 26 and ran through Oct. 29. A total of about 80 elk now roam a 50 square mile area around Clam Lake. The herd has grown from a seed herd of 25 elk released in May 1995. State, federal and local officials have placed signs and notified hunting groups about the elk. The last elk to be shot by a hunter was in the fall of 1995 during the November gun deer season. That animal was a radio collared cow, which was not found until the following spring at which time the hunter was cited and fined for killing a protected animal.
Conservation wardens will discuss the case with the Sawyer County District Attorney’s office on whether or not charges will be filed against the individual and if so what those charges would be.
“The first rule of hunting is to make absolutely sure of your target before you pull the trigger. This is especially true in an area that has an elk population such as where this incident took place. In this regrettable case, it’s significant that the hunter did notify us of what had occurred, and while we will take this into account in our recommendation to the District Attorney, we feel he is still responsible for his actions. We have put up signs and done all we can to inform people of the presence of elk in the area. At some point, we must hold the individual accountable for his actions and let the public know this behavior will not be tolerated”, said Dave Zeug DNR Northern Regional warden supervisor.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user hidesertforester]