Herd Of Elk Shot Up Near Ellensburg; Tips Needed

Central Washington game wardens are looking for tips that lead them to those responsible for shooting up a herd of elk near Ellensburg on Nov. 6, and two conservation groups are offering $4,000 in reward for info leading to a conviction in the case.



The incident occurred in Schnebly Canyon north of town between 9 and 11 that morning, the last day of rifle elk season, and began with a report of three dead elk on a hillside.

But when officers arrived they discovered even more.

“We found four dead calves in a line within 100 yards,” said Officer Roman Varyvoda.



Helpful hunters on the scene followed a blood trail that led to a fifth elk, a “big healthy cow” that also died, he says.



More may have been wounded too.

Varyvoda says that reported radio traffic from the time mentions 23 elk in a herd, and that after the elk were shot at, someone told everyone on the frequency to not to say a word.



He says that no effort was made to salvage any of the elk either.

“I’ve only been doing this for three years, but this is the worst I’ve seen so far. Who knows how many more are out there,” Varyvoda says. “As a hunter, it makes my blood boil.”



The area was only open to true spike bulls for general season hunters. Hundreds of antlerless elk tags are also available for overlapping special permit seasons.

While there are suggestions the herd may have been surrounded by a group of shooters, under Washington’s spree poaching law, anyone who poaches three or more deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, caribou, cougars, black bears or grizzly bears within 24 hours or “course of events” could be charged with unlawful hunting in the first degree, a class C felony.

The Northwest Chapter of Safari Club International initially offered a $1,000 reward and this evening Conservation Northwest added $3,000 to the pot.

“Agencies, conservation groups and individuals work hard to support healthy wildlife populations in our state,” said Chase Gunnell, deputy communications manager at CNW. “When this kind of egregious poaching happens the culprits need to be held responsible. Personally, I spent six days hunting the backcountry this year and didn’t fill my elk tag. To hear about this wanton waste is especially infuriating.”

As an added incentive, the state is offering coveted points for its special permit hunts.

“WDFW is offering 10 Bonus Points to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest,” Varyvoda adds.

Anyone with information on the case is being asked to call WDFW’s Poaching Hotline, (877) 933-9847, file a report through the agency’s website, or text tips to WDFWTIP Report and send them to 847411.



Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post listed the wrong chapter of Safari Club International as the source of the $1,000 reward. It is being offered by the Northwest Chapter, not the Seattle Chapter. Our apologies.

9 thoughts on “Herd Of Elk Shot Up Near Ellensburg; Tips Needed”

  1. The article says “The area was only open to true spike bulls for general season hunters.”
    That same area is also open Nov 4-8 to 510 antlerless permit holders and Oct 24 to Nov 6 to 23 any Bull permit holders as well.
    The late open for 510 antlerless might be the problem. The permit holders used to open two days earlier and now opens on Friday which brings in more “non familiar” hunters. It becomes a shootout to say.

    This is a very sad thing that has happened here but when you issue 510 antlerless permits and put it at the end of General Elk season problems like this are not surprising. The management is trying to cull the herd and by pushing these huge permit numbers to the end of the general season brings problems. I hunt this area and have been hunting this area for over 45 years. I hope the game dept can find these people quickly and bring this issue to a close. It will be difficult as most of the Elk hunters in this Schnebly Canyon area are there for a week and go home on Saturday the 5th.

    1. Article updated to reflect the large antlerless permit availability, which, nonetheless, doesn’t turn the game management unit (Naneum) into a free-fire zone either.


    2. Rick Johnson you are almost giving these low life poacher an excuse for what they have done. Just looking at the pictures you can see this is thrill killing by some, I would presume young frustrated shooter that hasn’t been trained properly as a hunter. This is much worse than those jerks that shoot up road signs, however there is an obvious frustration resemblance to that child that has always got his way before and never learned the real meaning of hunting and confuses it with killing and shooting. He will talk and brag to someone and that someone will collect a well earned reward.

  2. OMG, this is unbelievable. What was the sense in This? Was the meat able to be salvaged. I would give anything to catch this idiot. He would be in jail for a long time. Or, let me have him or her.

  3. Whether you hunt or not, wanton slaughter is not acceptable from anyone’s viewpoint! The calves they perversely used as targets, as well as the cow, will adversely effect long range growth of the overall population. And to leave the carcasses shows what lazy (expletive deleted) the perpetrators are, altho I believe they never intended to use the meat. It is a reality that on RARE occasions a wounded animal may not be found despite due diligence to track it down. Personally, the man and those who helped him, responsible for death of a valley legend, Bullwinkle, should have been immediately prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law, starting with the instant loss of the trophy hunters right to hunt and confiscation of his firearms. By allowing that behavior to “slide” the common ignorant spineless assholes who committed this most recent atrocity probably thought kittitas county would not be outraged. …WRONG! so to those who will eventually ‘brag’ about their actions- remember to keep looking over your shoulder because your day will come.

  4. Gather all the Keystone-Bud light cans in the area and dust them for finger prints and sample for dna. Sounds like an alcohol fueled event.

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