The BC Conservation Office says a dead Roosevelt elk found near Patterson Lake may have been poached. This undated file photo shows a male elk.

Poacher may have killed elk on Vancouver Island

Death of bull elk ‘very suspect,’ says provincial conservation officer

Conservation authorities are asking for information from the public after finding a dead elk that may have been poached, says James Hilgemann, a provincial conservation officer.

He said that natural resource officers found the animal while inspecting a cut block near Patterson Lake, northwest of Campbell River.

“They noticed some turkey vultures circling and went over the hump and located this five-point bull elk laying roadside,” said Hilgemann.

“It’s a younger bull elk,” he said. “It’s probably three, four years old.”

He examined the cadaver with another officer, skinning back the hide. The animal was mostly untouched.

“Turkey vultures took the eyeball and some areas around the rump,” Hilgemann said.

A poacher would have normally taken some meat, unless they were scared away by someone, he said.

He also said no claw marks were visible that would indicate a cougar attack, although a cougar may have attacked and then been “flushed off.”

But he said there were two holes in the animal’s jugular area, and some bruising caused by blunt trauma.

“Somebody may have shot it with a high-powered rifle,” he said.

However, no casings or other evidence of poaching was found nearby.

“Very suspect. It’s inconclusive,” he said. “Cause of death unknown.”

He said that anyone with evidence of poaching can contact the RAPP line anonymously.

Hilgemann added that elks are high-value animals, and the stakes would be high in a prosecution.

Authorities would likely seek a penalty of up to $15,000, he said.

The animal was a Roosevelt elk, a subspecies that, in B.C., is mainly found on Vancouver Island.

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