By Mark Johnson
OTSEGO COUNTY — A Jackson County man is scheduled to be arraigned sometime in the next few weeks after admitting to illegally killing an elk in the Pigeon River State Forest.
Lt. Jim Gorno, conservation officer at the DNR Gaylord Operations Service Center, said his agency was alerted of this poaching case in Otsego County, after the driver of a car traveling on a rural road found elk entrails from the feet, head and hide of an elk on the side of the road Nov. 29.
Upon further investigation, more elk parts were found scattered in several locations, including a river, and these parts were matched after DNA sampling.
While executing the investigation, authorities found a store receipt for a gift card within the remains, which led investigators to a man who knew the person responsible for the killing.
“This case started with very limited clues and evidence, but through solid investigative follow-up, in conjunction with excellent teamwork being displayed by several of our officers around the state, it was brought to a successful conclusion,” Gorno said, in a press release. “It shows diligence and tenacity in investigating cases involving our high-value fish and game species.”
Gorno said there are times elk are killed illegally, by accident, especially during firearm deer season.
Though this poaching incident also took place during deer season, Gorno said there was no doubt this was done intentionally.
“This was definitely intentional, not an accident,” he said. “The man was deer hunting, decided he wasn't seeing enough deer, so he shot the elk and butchered it.”
If the man is convicted, he could face fines of up to $2,500, restitution to the state of up to $1,500, loss of the firearm used in the incident and loss of hunting privileges for up to three years.
Gorno said the DNR started off 2015 with six elk poaching cases and have solved three with the conclusion of this latest investigation.
There are still ongoing investigations into three other cases and Gorno said any and all information is needed.
Anyone who shares information leading to an arrest and conviction will be eligible for a cash reward through the Game and Fish Protection fund. Information can also be left anonymously.
Anyone with information is asked to call the DNR Law Enforcement Division at the Gaylord Customer Service Center at (989) 732-3541.
Fish, game and natural resources violations can be reported to the DNR's Report All Poaching (RAP) Line at (800) 292-7800 or online at www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.