Oregon officials say a blow gun poacher is on the loose.
In one of the more unusual poaching cases of recent date, officials with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are looking for the person or persons who are shooting mule deer with blow guns in the city of Burns. Two deer have been killed and three more have been injured in the same manner over the past four months.
Now, a $1,000 reward for information is being offered by the Oregon Hunters Association for information in the case. Officials say the killings are happening within the city limits. The first deer to be poached was a fawn that was found dead on November 6, 2020 with a blow dart in its neck.
Because the deer are living in an urban area, they are more accustomed to humans than deer living in more wild places. Unfortunately, as has been shown in poaching cases across the country, this just makes the animals easy targets.
The next three deer found by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials survived the encounters, but they did have to be sedated so the blow darts could be removed. In a more recent case on February 13, law enforcement was called about a doe with a blow dart lodged in her. In this case, it was determined nothing could be done to save her and the animal was euthanized.
"Using a dart is an inhumane way to kill a deer. It would take a while for them to die," Regional Director for the Mule Deer Foundation Ken Hand said in an ODFW press release. "Poaching is belived to be one of the factors behind declines in mule deer across the state. Aside from being cruel, this is illegal, and is wanton waste of the animals."
ODFW biologist Rod Klus assisted with the saving of the three animals that survived. He also worries about the ethics of taking a deer with such an under-powered weapon.
"Either the wound will lead to an infection, or if the stomach or intestines are punctured, the deer will die, but it will take a while, and it will be painful," Klus said in the press release. "It takes a deer anywhere from days to weeks to die from infection."
There are also concerns about the costs of continually having to respond to calls about deer with blowgun darts lodged in them.
"This has been going on for a while," Klus said. "These cases take time and drain resources when we could be doing other things for wildlife."
Anyone with information in this case is asked to call Oregon's Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 800-452-7888 or through an email to [email protected]. A tip that leads to a citation of the person or persons responsible may be eligible to collect the $1,000 reward.