Looking for suspects

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Poachers shot three black-tailed bucks over the weekend of March 19, likely using a spotlight, and then left them to waste on the North Spit of Coos Bay. There is a $1500 reward offered for information that leads to a citation in the case. 

All three deer were shot in the head, from relatively close range, according to Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Levi Harris. Because the deer were found so close together, Harris believes they were blinded by a spotlight, which gave a shooter time to aim and drop each deer individually. In a normal hunting situation, a single shot at one deer would have startled others into flight. Black-tailed deer hunting season is currently closed. 

There were no footprints or tire tracks leading to the site according to US Department of Agriculture employee, Joseph Metzler, who discovered the scene as he began rounds the morning of Monday, March 23. Metzler, a member of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service team, specializes in survival strategies of Oregon Snowy Plover populations among the dunes along the North Spit. Only off-road or four-wheel drive vehicles can access the roads.  

That morning, traveling on his ATV, Metzler noticed crows congregating in the area. As he rounded a bend in the road, he came upon the deer carcasses directly in front of him, on the hillside. Metzler agrees that the deer were likely spotlighted.  

“As soon as I came around the corner, there they were, and if it had been dark, they would have been standing right in front of my headlights on the hillside,” he said. 

Metzler, no stranger to Oregon coast wildlife, has spent his career working with various wildlife agencies. On that day, Metzler saw a side of the occupation dreaded by all wildlife managers.  

“This is the worst that I’ve seen,” he said, “All three of these animals would have matured to be nice bucks for people to take next hunting season. Each one would have filled a freezer.” 

Reducing the number of poaching incidents across the state is a primary objective of the Oregon Hunters Association, according to Duane Dungannon, who serves on the state board.  

“Oregon’s deer are facing so many threats from predation, habitat loss, disease and vehicle collision, that last thing we can afford is to have them senselessly slaughtered by poachers,” he said.

OHA manages the Turn In Poachers reward fund for reporting poachers. The reward for information leading to a citation in this case now stands at $1500, or 12 hunter preference points.  

Oregon State Police requests that any person with information about this incident contact the TIP line and leave information for Trooper John Cooper.  Individuals wishing to remain anonymous may also contact the Oregon State Police through the Turn in Poachers line at; TIP Hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (677).  

The Stop Poaching Campaign educates the public on how to recognize and report poaching. This campaign is a collaboration among hunters, conservationists, land owners and recreationists. Our goal is to increase reporting of wildlife crimes through the TIP Line, increase detection by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers and increase prosecution. This campaign helps to protect and enhance Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

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