COMANCHE COUNTY, Okla. - Two elk were found slaughtered out of season on the Comanche-Kiowa County lines. Now game wardens are searching for the poachers.
The elk were shot in a wheat field near Saddle Mountain. They were poached on a private landowner's property the night before.
"The poachers cleaned one of the elk out in the field and dragged it to the road and loaded it into the vehicle," said game warden Lt. David Smith.
The other was left to rot.
"I didn't discover any footprints around it, so I don't even think they went and looked at it," Lt. Smith said.
It was sitting for hours before it was discovered, making it impossible for wardens to salvage the meat and give it to needy families.
Based on footprints, game wardens estimate there were probably three to five individuals involved.
They could face charges including illegal taking of wildlife, hunting with the aid of a vehicle, hunting without the permission of a landowner, shooting from a roadway, and spotlighting.
"It's not fair," Lt. Smith said. "The animal doesn't have a chance. It's frozen in the lights, it can't see what's going on, it doesn't know what's going on, and people take advantage of it."
He said it threatens the future generations of game, and it's theft from those who hunt legally in the state.
"It's unethical and it gives sportsmen in Oklahoma a bad name," Lt. Smith said.
Now, game wardens are looking for clues that could lead to the killers.
"The investigation on this elk case is going to take the cooperation between other citizens of the state of Oklahoma who may know something about this," Lt. Smith said.
Any tips or information can be directed to the investigators, Warden Mike Carroll at (580) 695-7535, or Lt. David Smith at (580) 450-7703.