They’re allegations that are turning the stomachs and making the blood boil of legitimate Northwest sportsmen — 16 deer including at least a half dozen mule deer bucks and two elk shot up on the winter range for … for no apparent reason other than the sick thrill of shooting guns and seeing living things drop.
Oregon State Police say they have linked the crimes northeast of Sisters to a trio of teens who all lived there at the time and whom they’ve cited on 48 counts of unlawful hunting, wastage, spotlighting and other crimes.
“They were shot for pleasure and entertainment,” OSP Sgt. David Pond told Mark Freeman of the Medford Mail-Tribune in an article reposted on OPB. “Basically, a thrill-kill situation.”
“That kills me to see crap like that happening in one of my favorite units,” a hunter by the online name of “Cogle” responded on Ifish.
Others were adding up the potential fines — in Oregon, it’s a $7,500 restitution payment to ODFW for shooting a trophy buck, one with at least four points on one side, and several recovered on the range would qualify.
Wardens became aware of something amiss in early winter.
Writes Lynne Terry of The Oregonian:
Last December, two Oregon State Police troopers happened upon a massacre of mule deer in central Oregon.
The carnage took place in the Metolius Wildlife Management Unit, which provides critical habitat for the deer in winter. Gates to the area had their locks shot off and the landscape beyond was littered with carcasses of mule deer, their heads decapitated.
The culprits took a few trophy antlers but mostly they killed the animals and left their bodies to waste. They killed both elk and mule deer, including bucks and does. Many of the does were pregnant. Killing the animals outside hunting season is illegal. Mule deer also fall under a protection plan that aims to increase the buck to doe ratio to sustain the species.
(Sgt. David Pond) said the animals appeared to be killed for entertainment. “They could have easily went out and shot up pop cans but instead they shot mule deer for the most part indiscriminately,” said Pond said. “They didn’t salvage any meat from the deer. Just about every deer they shot wasted.”
OSP launched an investigation that included the use of night patrols, electronic decoys and flights to catch the perps, and though they didn’t catch anyone in the act, they discovered more massacres and undisclosed evidence, Terry reports.
That led to yesterday’s news about arrests and citations in the case.
It’s not the only apparent spree killing of wildlife that’s taken place this year in the Northwest.
Six mule deer were shot and wasted in Adams County, north of the Tri-Cities, in late March.
“We’re still working it,” reports Sgt. Chris Erhardt this morning.
He says a few more leads have turned up.
A $2,000 reward has been offered for info that leads to an arrest and conviction.
In both cases does were killed. For the Central Oregon herd, which is struggling to hold its own due to longterm largescale landscape changes as well as poaching, it’s bad news.
“Most of your does would be in some sort of pregnancy,” Sgt. Pond told KTVZ, “so that hurts your future generations of mule deer, and hurts the population in general.”
He says even more charges may come down against more individuals.
“We are continuing our investigation and may have more arrests or even more suspects in the future,” Pond told Northwest Sportsman yesterday afternoon.
According to OSP, the three teens charged are:
* COLE A. CRAIG, age 18, from Bend
* TYLER S. MITCHELL, age 18, from Gold Hill
* SPENCER A. GREENE, age 17, from Sisters
Over the weekend, CRAIG was taken into custody and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail on local area charges. He was also cited to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court on charges for allegations in that County. MITCHELL was cited to appear on charges in Jackson County. GREENE was cited to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court for Taking Deer Closed Season and 3 counts of Aiding in a Wildlife Violation.
Charges for CRAIG include Taking Deer Closed Season (Jefferson – 8 counts, Deschutes – 1 count); Taking Elk Closed Season (Jefferson – 2 counts); Waste of Wildlife – Deer (Jefferson – 7 counts, Deschutes – 1 count); Waste of Wildlife – Elk (Deschutes – 2 counts); and, Hunting with Aid of Artificial Light (Jefferson – 3 counts).
MITCHELL was cited for in Jackson County for Unlawful Possession of Deer Parts (6 counts). He was also cited to appear in Deschutes and Jefferson County for Taking Deer Closed Season (Jefferson – 5 counts, Deschutes – 1 count); Waste of Wildlife (Jefferson – 3 counts, Deschutes – 1 count); Hunting with Aid of Artificial Light (Jefferson – 3 counts); and Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (Jefferson – 1 count).