Big fines for illegal elk kills during deer season
Gaylord, Mich. — Two Michigan deer hunters face thousands of dollars in fines and restitution for illegally killing elk during the firearms deer season in Montmorency County.
According to DNR reports, conservation officers Kelly Ross and Brad Belleville checked a hunter who self-reported that he mistakenly shot a 6×6 bull elk, thinking it was a white-tailed deer.
Under new poaching penalties approved last year by the state legislature, the hunter could faces the possibility of losing his hunting license for 15 years, fines and restitution of up to $5,000, plus $500 for each antler point, for a total of $11,000.
“There was low light and heavy fog when he shot the animal. He was a decent enough guy that when he realized he made a mistake, even though he was probably facing high fines, he called us to report it,” Lt. Jim Gorno told Michigan Outdoor News. “People are human and they make mistakes. If they call and report it we will try to work with the courts to lessen the fines and penalties. When they walk away and try to hide it, we don’t work with them. There are poachers and there are people who make mistakes. We try to handle those cases differently.”
A second illegal elk case falls under the later category. COs Ross and Belleville checked on a cow elk that had been shot during the firearms deer season, in Montmorency County’s Montmorency Township.
“Someone reported a wounded animal and when officers arrived they had to put the (cow) elk down,” Gorno said. “After a pretty lengthy investigation we were able to identify a suspect.”
The DNR would not release the name of the 44-year-old resident of Marlette who was ticketed in the case until his arraignment, scheduled for Dec. 16.
He faces a 15-year license revocation and fines and restitution of up to $5,000.
In a third illegal elk kill incident conservation officers are still investigating the shooting of a bull elk in September in Montmorency County.
In that incident, a bull elk was shot near the intersection of Johnson’s Crossing and Meridian Line roads. Leads have been developed and the investigation continues.
Because of the timing of this incident investigators believe it may have been shot by a hunter during the state’s early elk hunt.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the DNR’s Gaylord field office at (989) 732-3541.