Grocery store receipt is key to elk-poaching case

Lansing — A Jackson County man has confessed to the illegal killing of a small bull elk during the firearms deer season in Otsego County, according to Michigan DNR conservation officers who investigated the incident.

A passerby discovered elk parts dumped along a rural road Nov. 29, 2014. A conservation officer investigating the scene located a grocery store receipt among the entrails of an elk. A six-week investigation ensued, with a suspect being identified and interviewed. A confession was obtained, and charges are now being reviewed by the Otsego County prosecutor.

According to Lt. Jim Gorno, DNR law enforcement supervisor in Gaylord, conservation officers from the DNR’s Gaylord office were assisted in the investigation by officers from southern Michigan, a Report All Poaching hotline dispatcher, and a detective from the department’s Special Investigations Unit.

“This case started with very limited clues and evidence, but through solid investigative follow-up, in conjunction with excellent teamwork being displayed by several of our officers around the state, it was brought to a successful conclusion,” Gorno said. “It shows diligence and tenacity in investigating cases involving our high-value fish and game species.”

Elk poaching carries fines of up to $2,500, restitution to the state of up to $1,500, loss of the firearm used in the incident, and loss of hunting privileges for up to three years.

Conservation officers continue to investigate a number of poaching-related incidents involving elk in northern Michigan. Anyone with information regarding any incidents is asked to call the DNR Law Enforcement Division at the Gaylord Customer Service Center at (989) 732-3541 or the 24-hour RAP line at (800) 292-7800. Tips may be left anonymously. 

Any fish, game, or natural resources violation can be reported to the DNR’s RAP line or with the online reporting form available at the DNR website www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers.

People who provide information leading to an arrest and conviction are eligible for a cash reward.

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