Two adult elk were illegally shot last week in Shannon County.
On Friday, Feb. 8, authorities discovered two shot elk, a bull and a cow, near the Log Yard area of Shannon County. Neither animal was missing any parts, meaning this wasn't some desperate attempt to obtain meat to feed a family.
The Missouri Department of Conservation wants answers, and it's looking to the public for all the help it can get.
"It appears these poachers simply wanted to shoot elk for fun or out of spite, and that's abhorrent," MDC's Protection Division Chief Randy Doman said in a press release.
Poaching has been a problem across the United States for a long time, but it's more damaging in a state like Missouri that's in the process of trying to restore the population.
There have already been three other elk poaching incidents since the restoration initiative began in 2011.
Just a year ago, there were an estimated 170 elk in Missouri, so five is a significant number.
"These poaching incidents are ethically wrong and represent unacceptable moral conduct," Doman said. "We know Missourians care about conservation, wildlife and the laws that protect their wildlife resources. These actions don't represent the values of Missourians and hunters here."
Doman also noted the economic damage such actions can cause. There have been two self-guided driving elk tours at the Peck Ranch and Current River conservation areas, which brought about $1.3 million to the state, according to visitor surveys. That figure included money earned from food, lodging and transportation of more than 11,000 people that visited the Missouri Ozarks in 2016.
"The restoration of elk is appreciated by many people, businesses and organizations in the area," Doman said. "The citizens here take great pride in their hunting traditions and their wildlife resources. A healthy, growing elk population brings significant economic and cultural benefits to these communities, and the senseless waste of the people's resources should not be tolerated."
We'll keep you updated here at Wide Open Spaces as this poaching case continues to progress.