Parks and Wildlife investigating abandoned bull elk carcasses

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are investigating a pair of big-game incidents.

A bull elk carcass was dumped along Ute Pass Road near mile marker three, north of Silverthorne. CPW learned about the carcass on Oct. 6 and is asking the public for help identifying the person responsible.

According to District Wildlife Manager Elissa Knox, the elk had been field dressed, quartered and placed in game bags; however, one rear quarter, a backstrap and the head and antlers were missing. The rest was left to rot by the side of the road.

“This elk could have fed a family for quite some time, but instead, someone chose to dump it and waste it,” she said. “Wildlife belongs to every citizen of the state. When someone does something like this, it’s really wasting Colorado’s natural resources.”

According to Knox, officers gathered evidence at the scene, but CPW is urging the responsible party to come forward immediately. In some cases, CPW takes prompt reporting into consideration when assessing charges. Otherwise, the person responsible can face steep fines, felony charges and the revocation of hunting and fishing privileges in cases like this.

“We don’t know exactly when it was killed,” Knox said. “Before someone dumped it, the elk could have been legally killed during the archery season in September, or it may have been poached out of season.

“We just want to get the word out, and remind the public they can earn a reward of $500 through Operation Game Thief if they provide info leading to a citation or arrest.”

In a second incident, someone killed, then abandoned, a trophy-quality bull elk and left the meat to waste. The animal was found in Game Management Unit 10 approximately 1½ miles north of Mellen Hill, near Rio Blanco County Road 98, northwest of Rangely.

Hunters typically have to wait 20 years to draw a license in the unit.

Investigators believe someone shot the elk between 
Oct. 2-4, during an early rifle season, then left it to waste. A hunter scouting the area found it on Oct. 6 and immediately contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“We’ve found some evidence at the scene and will continue to investigate until we find the person responsible for this,” said District Wildlife Manager Nate Martinez of Rangely. “But in the meantime, we would appreciate hearing from anyone that can provide information.”

Martinez says it is possible a legal hunter shot the animal but couldn’t locate it.

Martinez said it’s the responsibility of hunters to make a reasonable attempt to track and kill any animal they wound. Failing to do so is illegal.

Because the bull elk is trophy-quality and the meat spoiled, the person responsible could face significant penalties.

“The person that did this still has the time to do the right thing,” said Martinez. “In most cases, we take prompt reporting into account when assessing charges. Otherwise, there will be severe penalties for killing a trophy-quality bull, letting it go to waste and taking away this opportunity from responsible hunters that wait many years to legally hunt in the unit.”

Anyone with information can contact Martinez at

To provide information about a wildlife violation anonymously, the public can contact Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648, by dialing #OGT from a Verizon phone, or by email at

Rewards are available if the information leads to an arrest or citation.