Nevada DOW and Operation Game Thief Offer Reward

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The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) and Operation Game Thief (OGT) are requesting the public's help in gathering information on two recent poachings. A $2500 reward is offered for information on each poaching. In one case, game wardens found two does and three fawns shot outside of Elko and left in a field. In a separate poaching, a California bighorn sheep ram was found in the Santa Rosa range in Humboldt County. The animal’s head had been removed and the carcass left.

OGT Citizens Board, a private, non-profit group providing a confidential means for citizens to report crimes against wildlife, is offering $2,500 on each case for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible parties. Anyone with information can contact OGT at 1-800-992-3030.

The does and fawns were discovered in an alfalfa field on Bullion Road south of Elko. "No trespassing" signs are posted on the fencing of the field off the high-visibility, high-use county road. One of the does had been shot through the heart, and the other doe and fawns were shot in the stomach. Coupled with the way the bodies were dispersed, it appeared as if the animals suffered for some time before expiring.

"This appears to be a thrill-seeking, malicious killing. It’s one of the worse sights we've seen in a long time," said Rob Buonamici, Chief Game Warden with NDOW.

The California bighorn sheep ram was shot on the south side of Hinkey Summit, about a quarter mile from the top, in the Santa Rosa range in Humboldt County. A Winnemucca man found the animal and reported it to NDOW. Wardens believe the ram was killed and its head removed around October 17th or 18th. It is likely the poacher shot the ram from an ATV or vehicle from the road.

The Santa Rosa bighorn sheep herd was among the earlier herds re-established in northern Nevada in the late 1970's. Since 2003, when the herd experienced a disease event and population decline, wildlife biologists have closely tracked the herd’s recovery. The limited tag quota for the privilege to hunt rams in this herd was further reduced in 2004 due to this population decline. This year, three rams were legally harvested in the area. Big game biologist Mike Cox condemned the poaching. "This takes away the opportunity for the honest hunter. Hundreds of tag applicants each year, many who have been waiting their entire life, apply for this coveted hunting opportunity," Cox said.

NDOW strongly encourages anyone with information on either case to call OGT. OGT encourages callers to provide any information they have such as: vehicle information, including the color, type, and license plate; suspect descriptions, such as how many, what type of clothing they were wearing; specific locations where they saw suspicious activity; how the crime was committed, such as using spotlights or shooting from a vehicle; type of weapon used. Also, submission of any photos is encouraged.

Poaching is a felony punishable by up to six years in prison, forfeiture of equipment associated with the crime, loss of hunting privileges, and loss of the right to carry firearms. "These people are not hunters, they are common criminals," said Buonamici.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW's wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.