By Carmen George
Three dead tule elk found near Los Banos prompted a poaching investigation by officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who are seeking the public's help.
Officials said at least two of the bull elk were shot and appear to have been unlawfully killed and left to spoil. The carcasses were found dead Sept. 23 and likely killed Sept. 20 or Sept. 21.
Warden Mark Michilizzi, warden and spokesman for the state DFW, said the tule elk herd surrounding Los Banos and the San Luis Reservoir are closely monitored, and a very limited number of elk tags are issued to licensed hunters. This year, only three tags were allotted for the San Luis Reservoir elk hunt, he said.
"Successful hunters who draw an elk tag for this area have often waited years to obtain such a tag," Michilizzi said. "The illegal taking of the three elk is not only a gross violation of the law, but it also affects the opportunities for legitimate hunters and all Californians who enjoy viewing these magnificent animals."
Wildlife officers are encouraging anyone with information regarding this case to contact the department's 24-hour hotline, Caltip at 1 (888) DFG-CALTIP (1-888-334-2258). Rewards up to $1,000 are available for information resulting in a citation or arrest.