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Reward increased for info on well-known elk illegally killed at Oklahoma nature preserve

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Officials in Tahlequah are still searching for the person who illegally killed a well-known animal at an Oklahoma nature reserve.

Now, the reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible has increased to $4,000.

The well-known elk, “Hollywood,” was illegally killed at the Nature Conservancy’s J.T. Nickel Preserve near Tahlequah over the weekend.

The 8-year-old bull elk was often seen greeting visitors to the preserve.

"Hollywood" at J.T. Nickel Preserve -1- Photo provided by preserve visitor Becky Drake

“Hollywood” at J.T. Nickel Preserve -1- Photo provided by preserve visitor Becky Drake

“It was not uncommon to see ‘Hollywood’ on a daily basis,” said Jeremy Tubbs, Director of J.T. Nickel Preserve. “He was not just any elk, he was an elk that people looked for when visiting the preserve. He was commonly photographed by visitors, earning him the nickname Hollywood.”

Officials say someone illegally poached Hollywood, leaving his carcass behind, but taking his head.

Poached elk - head removed - Photo provided by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Poached elk – head removed – Photo provided by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

There is a legal hunting season for elk in Cherokee County, but hunting is always prohibited on the nature preserve, which is privately owned by The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy’s original offer of a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Hollywood’s death has now quadrupled, thanks to the help of several Oklahoma organizations.

NatureWorks, a Tulsa-based conservation organization, matched The Nature Conservancy’s reward with an additional $1,000. The Oklahoma State Game Warden Association contributed $500, and a Bobby Mahan of Wagoner, OK for contributed $1,000. On top of the possible $500 reward through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Operation Game Thief (OGT), the total reward now being offered is $4,000.

If you have any information on the poaching incident, you are asked to contact the game wardens with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at (918) 431-2552 or (918) 431-2543.