By Karen Morfitt
DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado wildlife officials say they are investigating a number of high profile poaching cases across the state. The disturbing cases involve deer being used for target practice in Colorado Springs and elk seemingly shot for fun near Fort Collins.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Rebecca Ferrell says it’s actually just a glimpse into a much bigger issue.
“Unfortunately poaching is a problem for us every year,” she said.
Perhaps the most high profile poaching cast this year is that of two mountain goats.
In July, Parks and Wildlife officials found the animals on top of Quandary Peak, shot in the head at point blank range.
“It is a crime against the people of the State of Colorado. They are stealing our resources,” Ferrell said.
According to their annual report in 2017, they had 650 poaching cases called in to their “Operation Game Thief” hotline.
“The unfortunate truth is we really have no idea, in any given year, how many poaching cases we are dealing with in the state,” she said.
It’s now been three months since the incident on Quandary Peak and still no leads on the person or persons responsible.
Ferrell says as illegal kills become more visible, it’s important to remember that poaching is not hunting.
“There is legal, ethical, licensed hunting,” she said. “People who are in it for sport or in it for food, who are in it for all the right reasons. Those people are in a very separate category from people who are doing this.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers rewards for information in some of the most egregious poaching cases. Currently they are offering $15,000 for help tracking down those responsible for killing the mountain goats.
Anyone with information can call or email Operation Game Thief at 1-877-265-6648 (1-877-COLO-OGT).
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.