Four elk have shot and left on Vancouver Island have the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) looking to the public to help track down those responsible.
Two elk were killed and abandoned, while two others had the meat harvested. Leaving harvestable game meat in the field is a punishable offence under the Wildlife Act.
“This is quite concerning now,” says Scott Norris, sergeant with the COS on the South Island. “It’s unacceptable behaviour.”
For 30 years, a moratorium on hunting elk was in place across the province, allowing the population to rebound, and as a result, there was “very little harvesting going on,” Norris says.
Those who qualify for what is called a limited entry hunting draw are the only hunters other than local First Nations communities with agreements in place with the province, who can legally hunt elk.
“It’s frustrating for us to deal with this,” says Norris, whose officers found the carcasses in the Cowichan Valley, Campbell River and on the south end of Mesachie Lake, all within the last two months.
Elk don’t run off like deer, he explains, because they don’t have the same fear of humans. “You can get quite close to them so that makes them easy pickings.”
The COS relies on tips from the public – like the one received Sunday about the fourth elk found at Mesachie Lake – in order to tackle illegal hunting behaviour. Reporting can be done anonymously through the RAPP form on their website, or by calling 1-877-952-7277.
Elk have been increasingly spotted in Sooke and along the west side of the Island out to Port Renfrew, and fines for breaking the law can run anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 and can include the seizure of vehicles, hunting guns or other equipment, “depending on how it goes through the court system,” says Norris.
“There are various people who think for whatever reason, they can take elk. But there is a long term detrimental impact to the population if this behaviour continues.”