Nearly a year to the day after the unresolved Ellensburg elk massacre, two men are suspected of killing at least four cows here after spraying gunfire “recklessly” into a herd of wapiti.
Hunters reported the duo’s alleged actions east of town on Thursday, Nov. 2, and Capt. Bob Weaver in Yakima says that without their tips, the case might not have been made.
The incident came to light this afternoon after WDFW Fish and Wildlife Police posted about it on their Facebook page.
According to the story, Sgt. Carlo Pace and Officer Courtney Nasset were dispatched to a green dot area of the Quilomene Game Management Unit, with Nasset arriving first on the scene and detaining two men who had field-dressed two cows at that point.
However, witnesses said that more elk had been shot, and with help, Pace was able to find an additional two down in the vicinity.
As the sergeant interviewed the men, they allegedly “confessed to shooting into the herd recklessly with a semi-automatic rifle.”
(The rifle was initially mistakenly reported on Facebook as an automatic but was corrected later.)
“Although believed to not have maliciously shot more animals than they should have, they knew there were more and planned on leaving them to waste if officers had not intervene (sic),” wardens alleged.
More than a dozen spent shells were recovered at the scene and the rifle and another unidentified firearm was seized.
Nov. 2 was the second day of season for multiple special permit antlerless elk tags for modern firearms in that GMU, while true spike bull hunting was continuing as well.
“Several charges for exceeding the bag limit and party hunting will be filed,” WDFW Police reported.
Party hunting is shooting and killing big game so another person can put their tag on the animal, a no-no except in the case of disabled hunters who have a designated companion hunter.
Capt. Weaver said officers are still putting the case package together for Kittitas County prosecutors, but credited elk hunters who witnessed the carnage for tipping them off.
“Without their help, we wouldn’t have made this case. That’s what we’re most thankful for,” he said, pointing to the vast pool of law-abiding Washington hunters.
The venison was donated to a local mission, WDFW reported.
Yesterday also marked the one-year anniversary of another more unsavory incident near Ellensburg. Five cow elk were gunned down on Sunday morning, Nov. 6, “like somebody took a machine gun to the hillside,” a witness told us.
There’s been a reward of $9,000 on the table for information on that case, but it’s gone uncollected despite massive, widespread news coverage.
“Unfortunately, no, nothing’s ever developed on that case,” says Weaver.