elk poaching

Reward Offer Leads to Arrests in Oklahoma Elk Poaching Case

This elk poaching case was solved because someone came forward.

The poachers involved in a Cherokee County, Oklahoma, elk poaching case have all been caught thanks to tips from the public.

We first reported on this case back in December when Oklahoma Game Wardens were offering up a reward for tips. Now, Newson6.com reports 37-year-old Rocky Watts is the one who poached the elk on Nature Conservancy land near Tahlequah.

The area is off-limits to hunting. Watts, who has been convicted of poaching in the past, claimed the elk was a legal harvest. But wardens discovered he had actually staged a kill site and were able to use DNA testing to match meat from Watt's elk to remains found on Nature Conservancy property.

But he wasn't alone in his crimes. According to the Warden's Facebook page, someone saw their post and contacted the state's anti-poaching hotline. This subsequently led to the arrests of 45-year-old Debbie Vaughn and 38-year-old Johnny Barnett.

Barnett allegedly helped out Watts in the staging of the fake kill site on private property.

Coincidentally, while looking into the wildlife crimes, the three suspects will now also face drug charges after investigators discovered marijuana being dried.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation was offering a $500 reward for tips in this case. An offer to match this reward was made by the Nature Conservancy. The person who made the tip call will now be able to receive the reward, pending a successful prosecution in this case.

It just goes to show poaching tip lines and rewards work when it comes to catching wildlife criminals.