IDFG: Catching poachers requires help from public

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An elk shot and its meat wasted on private land near Prichard is among several poaching cases being investigated by Idaho Fish and Game.

The department is looking for help to solve the illegal shooting of a bull elk that occurred Saturday near milepost four of the Beaver Creek drainage, Mark Rhodes, IDFG conservation officer said. In addition, officers are investigating the shooting of a collared, 15-year-old female grizzly bear Labor Day weekend near Spruce Lake in Boundary County.

Regional conservation officer Craig Walker said the state is investigating the bear shooting although grizzlies are protected by both state and federal law and jurisdiction could be taken over by U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

“We prefer to deal with it at a state level,” Walker said.

The loss of a breeding female is a major setback to the great bear’s recovery in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem, Senior Conservation Officer Brian Johnson said. A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction in the case.

After receiving a mortality signal from the bear’s collar Sept. 4, the bear’s carcass was located and the animal was delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Lab, which determined the grizzly was shot. The grizzly was collared a year earlier in the same general area.

More recently, the officers nabbed a Coeur d’Alene man who was driving a white older model BMW with Idaho Sawtooth National Recreation Area “Goat” plates when he illegally shot a moose from a road in Unit 4A of the Coeur d’Alenes during elk season. The road is east of the Bunco Road. The man, Edward Tapia, 23, was charged in First District Court with two misdemeanors including failing to have an appropriate tag when he killed the moose, and for wasting the animal.

The bull moose was shot Oct. 22 and left to waste along the USFS 2707A road below Bernard Peak near the Bonner and Kootenai County line. Tapia covered the moose with logs to conceal it from view on the open hillside. A witness spoke to Tapia who said he did not know he had killed a moose, according to IDFG. His arraignment is Dec. 18 in Coeur d’Alene.

Walker said the best way for hunters to report a poaching incident is to call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) line at 1-800-632-5999 or the IDFG Panhandle office at 208-769-1414.

“It all depends on people taking the responsibility and making the call, if they know it isn’t right,” Walker said. “It really does require help from the public.”

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