Hikers in central Missouri encountered a gruesome sight on Sunday: piles of dead, skinned animals, left to rot in the middle of a popular trail.
Reddit user winter_beard posted images of the animal carcasses after hiking with friends on January 11 on the Ozark Trail near Steelville, Missouri. The friends called the state Conservation Department, which responded that they had received other reports of the dead animals and were investigating the incident.
Many Reddit users suspected an irresponsible trapper was responsible for skinning and improperly disposing of the bodies. Trapping in Missouri is currently in season, but the Conservation Department noted that whoever dumped the bodies also disposed of trash in the area, which is illegal.
The hikers said the animals appeared to be comprised of coyotes and opossum. Other online sleuths suspected the animals could also be badgers, raccoons, weasels and others, although the carcasses’ condition make them difficult to positively identify.
Users claiming to be sportsmen responded that the incident was uncharacteristic of most hunters and trappers, but risked giving them a bad name. They labeled the disposal of the bodies as inconsiderate to other users of the hiking trail, and a waste of carcasses that could be repurposed for meat or bait.
Most respondents to the post didn’t attack hunting or trapping itself, but noted the incident is an important reminder to maintain the public image of sportsmen by acting responsibly and with consideration to others that share the outdoors.