McCALL — Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers are asking the public to help them find the individuals responsible for killing and leaving a trophy Shiras moose to waste near Tripod Reservoir.
The incident is one of four cases where moose were illegally shot this month.
On Oct. 17, a large bull moose was found dead and suspected of being poached west of Tripod Meadow, which is west of Smiths Ferry, in Hunting Unit 24. Conservation officers believe the animal was shot sometime between Oct. 10 and 17.
Citizens Against Poaching is offering a reward for information, and callers can remain anonymous by calling the organization’s hotline at (800) 632-5999. People can also report online at idfg.idaho.gov/poacher or contact officer Chris Rowley at (208) 630-4341.
On the morning of Oct. 16, two moose were killed in separate incidents in the Landmark and Snowbank areas of Valley County. In both cases, inexperienced hunters mistook the moose for elk, and immediately called and reported the shootings.
“Potentially, killing a moose during closed season could result in a felony and a $10,000 restitution to the state, but other options exist for people who come forward and handle the mistake correctly,” conservation officer Marshall Haynes said. “To put it simply, hunters are always responsible for knowing their target, and this isn’t a mistake they should be making. However, in the event that a mistake is made, doing the right thing and self-reporting will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.”
A third incident took place Saturday morning, just north of Payette Lake. A Fish and Game conservation officer located two hunters who said they mistook a moose for an elk. Witnesses had observed the hunters shooting at the bull from a long distance, according to a news release from the agency.
After investigating, the conservation officer was unable to locate any blood, and believes the moose wasn’t hit.
But the three moose that were killed are a concern to agency biologists and wildlife managers.
“The Southwest Region has a low density of moose,” said moose biologist Hollie Miyasaki. “Illegally killing three moose in an area where we don’t have a large enough population to have a hunt could have a negative impact on this population of moose.”
According to the news release, moose can be found in most of the state’s elk hunting zones.
Moose and elk are easy to distinguish. Elk range in color from light brown in winter to reddish tan in summer, and have characteristic buff-colored rumps. In winter, a dark brown, shaggy mane hangs from the neck to the chest. Bull elk have large, spreading antlers.
Moose are dark brown with grayish legs. They have a large, overhanging snout and a dewlap on the throat. The antlers on the male are massive, palmate and flat.
While the two species are easily identifiable, sometimes conditions can make doing so more difficult. However, whether it’s low-light conditions, a long-distance view of the animal or other conditions, the hunter is ultimately responsible for positively identifying their target before pulling the trigger.
“It’s a pretty simple principle, and it’s one of the first things you are taught in hunter education: If there is any doubt at all, you should never take that shot,” Haynes said. “There is no excuse for shooting the wrong animal.”