Montana Authorities Left with Many Questions After Bull Moose Poaching

by Jon D. B.

The young bull moose was shot and left to die, likely passing a day or two after the fatal wound. Now, Montana officials are on the hunt for the poacher.

There’s no two ways about it, poaching is one of the most heinous acts to an Outsider. Good actors are paramount amongst hunters, fishers, and our cohorts. There will always, however, be a few bad eggs who spoil conservation for the rest of us.

One such poacher took to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in early September. The refuge is open to sanctioned deer and elk hunting. But killing any moose on the refuge is illegal.

“I’m fairly confident to say it was shot close to opening weekend because of the state of the animal,” says CMR Federal Wildlife Officer Deborah Goeb via local Lewiston News-Argus. “It possibly died within one or two days of being shot.”

Tragically, the young bull was shot in the gut, then left to slowly bleed out and die.

“It was shot with a bow the best we can tell,” Goeb adds. “Though it’s hard to tell that long after.”

The bull moose’s poached carcass came to light in late September. By his condition, Goeb believes the poacher struck at the beginning of hunting season early that month.

And this was no case of mistaken identity, either. Less-experienced hunters may mistake a young moose for an elk as they are of similar size. This moose’s antlers, however, were removed a short time after his death, CMR cites. Someone knew exactly what they were doing.

According to CMR’s investigation, a small jon boat was near the kill site around Sept. 10-15. Officials believe this is when the moose’s antlers were taken.

Poacher’s Heinous Bull Moose Poaching Leads to ‘Rare’ Investigation

“This is rare,” Goeb continues of the poaching. “We’ve had a couple moose hanging out this fall, but they are usually only here in the spring and then they’re gone.”

Goeb believes the young bull was shot on the north side of the reserve where she typically sees them. “But I can’t prove that,” she adds. The moose’s body was discovered on the south side.

The FWO believes the moose could have fled from one side of the reserve to the other after being shot. This entails a long, painful death.

“Whether this was an accident or on purpose, we don’t know,” she continues. “Maybe a hunter thought it was an elk, but elk hunters are usually very specific about what they are shooting.”

Personally, however, Goeb says “I doubt it was an accident. But maybe someone shot it thinking they can shoot a moose here.”

When it comes to the actual shooting and the removal of the antlers, Goeb believes there are two separate culprits.

“That is me taking a trained, educated guess. If it would have been reported earlier, we could have at least gone in and removed the antlers and the temptation for someone to take them.”

According to Lewiston, shooting a moose on the refuge is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000. Six months in prison are also possible.

“Someone knows what happened. Let’s talk,” Goeb offers. “It’s been a good year until this.”

Goeb asks that any Montanans with information contact the CMR at (406) 464-5181, ext. 13.