One of the two hunters who reported the Ellensburg elk massacre to state wildlife officers is describing the scene she and her husband came across Nov. 6.
“It was like somebody took a machine gun to the hillside,” says Tricia Singer during a phone call with Northwest Sportsman magazine this morning.
Five elk, all females, were killed on or near the open, rocky face just northeast of this Central Washington county seat, and it’s possible even more animals were wounded and/or died.
It’s believed the shooting took place between 9 and 11 a.m. that Sunday morning. Singer says that there were several herds of elk running between Cooke and Schnebly Canyons, with people driving back and forth, chasing them.
It was the last day of the general season hunt for true spike bulls, while special permit seasons for antlerless elk were ongoing as well.
“It was an incredible scene to see all the elk” on the hillside, Singer says.
But it would soon sour.
While the Singers didn’t see or hear the slaughter take place, they did spot what looked like a lone elk that appeared to have been shot and which went down into a valley.
“That’s when we said we’ll go take a look,” Singer says.
They didn’t find that animal, but they did stumble across three dead calves on the hillside.
She and Brett initially thought that whomever had downed the trio would, after rousting up some help, come over and tag and clean their kills.
But after waiting three hours, nobody had arrived to claim the dead elk, so the Singers decided to call WDFW game wardens.
Officer Roman Varyvoda responded to the scene, and along with other hunters from the Singers’ camp, they found two more dead elk.
According to Varyvoda, four calves were found in a line 100 yards long.
There were only two things to be done: gather evidence and try and salvage as much of the meat as possible.
But they couldn’t do the jobs without grieving for the lost elk and senseless wastage either.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Singer told Northwest Sportsman. “I’ve never seen grown men cry like that. We had five guys on the hill. As they’re dressing the animals, they’ve got tears in their eyes.”
Later, she let her emotions fly on Facebook:
“I experienced something so devastating this past Sunday that I cant get out of my head. I’m both nauseous and furious that there is a POS out there portraying themselves as a hunter and outdoorsmen,” she wrote.
Singer is the vice president of the Safari Club International, Northwest Chapter, which is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Another organization, Conservation Northwest, pitched in $3,000, and WDFW is offering 10 special permit bonus points.
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.
“It’s these types of actions that give all hunters a bad name!” Singer posted on Facebook. “Share and Repost this. Comment, educate and get the word out that these actions are not of a true conservationist.”
And please call wildlife officers if you know anything about what happened in Schnebly Canyon.