A Roosevelt Elk in the wild.

Elk killed by poachers near Sandcut Creek

Animal found with legs cut off and hide removed, another decapitated and gutted.

The bodies of two poached elk have been found near Sandcut Creek, east of Jordan River, by conservation officers.

The animals were part of a small group of Roosevelt elk that had been living in the area for the last few years.

Conservation officer Peter Pauwels, who found both animals, said one was pregnant, while the other may have been pregnant as well.

The animals were shot a week apart – on Jan. 31 and a week later on Feb. 8. In one case, the animal was shot far off the logging road, with its legs cut off and its hide removed.

Although the province’s wildlife authority permits First Nations to hunt Roosevelt elk on Vancouver Island, the recent killings have all been deemed illegal.

Pauwels said the herds affected by the poaching are not healthy enough to sustain even limited harvests.

“It’s pretty upsetting. If they’d been left alone, they had all the potential to turn into a viable herd, but this has done severe damage to the prospects of that happening,” he said.

Elk have slowly been making a comeback on the Island in the last 30 years. This was the first group conservation officers have seen active in the Greater Sooke area on a regular basis.

The T’Souke and Pacheedaht First Nations also expressed concern over the incident, as both parties have been trying to re-building elk populations in the Jordan River.

The conservation service has not identified any suspects in the poaching incidents.

Pauwels encourages anyone with information to call the Report All Poachers and Polluters hotline at 1-877-952-7277. Callers can remain anonymous, but tips need to be specific to assist investigations, he said.

editor@sookenewsmirror.com