Nevada DOW Seeks Clues on Big Game Poaching

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As big game hunting season nears its close, Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens are seeking the public's help to solve a substantial increase in the number of poached big game animals across the state.

Game wardens have discovered many poached animals around the state throughout the hunting season. Near Battle Mountain, game wardens found four poached mule deer since the start of archery season in late August. In Lincoln County, wardens are investigating reports of three cow elk poached. Game wardens also discovered several mule deer poached in Washoe County. All these cases are in addition to individual animals sporadically found in other parts of the state.

More alarming to wardens is the disturbing trend of groups of poached animals found killed and left to waste. In Elko County, wardens are investigating a report of three poached elk and a group of five poached deer.

"We are used to seeing some poachers pretending to be hunters during the open season," said Rob Buonamici, chief game warden in Reno. "But the concentration of some of these poached animals is alarming. Each and every animal killed without a tag is a felony, which we take very seriously. We intend to use all our resources to apprehend the persons responsible for these crimes."

Along with these extraordinary cases, wardens are also seeing an upswing in more traditional wildlife crimes, such as loaded guns in vehicles, improperly punched tags and so-called party hunting. "We are getting many spike bucks killed mistakenly by doe hunters. We have had several cases of people mistakenly killing multiple animals. We always see these kinds of cases year after year, but this year there seems to be more of everything," said Game Warden Lieutenant Jerry Smith.

As cases of theft, poaching and assault keep Nevada's 31 field game wardens working overtime, game wardens are seeing a corresponding increase in wildlife crimes of all kinds putting even more pressure on Nevada's wildlife, according to Buonamici. Game wardens are asking hunters in the field to report suspicious activity and wildlife crimes to Operation Game Thief (OGT) at (800) 992-3030. Only through the public’s help can game wardens protect wildlife.

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