Reward for Intel on Oregon Bighorn Poacher Hits $4,500 as Conservation Orgs Chip in

An Oregon State Police wildlife trooper found the beheaded sheep carcass south of Baker City in November
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A bighorn sheep was poached and beheaded.
A photo of the beheaded sheep. Scroll down for the unedited graphic version. Photograph by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Three hunting and wildlife conservation groups have joined forces to put up a $4,500 reward for anyone with information leading to the felony arrest of a bighorn sheep poacher in eastern Oregon. The Oregon Wild Sheep Foundation and the Oregon Hunters’ Foundation contributed $2,000 each, while the Oregon Wildlife Coalition posted $500.

The investigation remains open as Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers and the ODFW combine forces to identify the person who killed and beheaded the trophy-sized Rocky Mountain bighorn in November. OSP trooper Dakotah Keys responded to a call on Nov. 30 to discover the headless carcass near Hibbard Creek Road in the Lookout Mountain Wildlife Management Unit, according to an ODFW press release.

A poacher beheaded the sheep and left the meat behind.
The poacher made no attempt at salvaging any of the meat.

Photograph by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Based on the photo of the carcass, the poacher made no attempt to salvage any of the meat or hide of the sheep. What can best be described as a rudimentary hack job severed the head from the rest of the body.

“It’s so hard to believe that someone would shoot and waste such an amazing animal,” Oregon WSF president Martin said in the press release. “The Lookout Mountain herd of bighorn sheep is an area Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), OR WSF and our partners have been focusing a lot of resources to understand what has caused the ongoing loss of animals and this criminal act just adds to that loss.”

Oregon is home to far more California bighorns than Rocky Mountain bighorns — roughly 3,700 individuals compared to 800 individuals, respectively. Bighorns are tied with mountain goats as the two most expensive big-game animals to hunt in Oregon. Resident tags costs $142 and non-resident tags cost $1,513.50 — if you can draw one.

“The lack of respect for an animal that represents the beauty, strength and wild lands of Oregon is just sad,” Martin said. “Add to that the loss for all of Oregonians the opportunity to see and interact with an animal, that has been stolen from all of us.”

Read Next: Oregon Man Does Jail Time for Poaching 7-Foot White Sturgeon, Estimated to Be 80 Years Old

If caught, the poacher would face a $10,000 fine and a hunting license suspension, in addition to further charges for wanton waste. 

Poaching has been a rampant problem in Oregon, driving ODFW to direct resources toward their Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline. The Oregon Hunters Association and Oregon Wildlife Coalition both offer standing rewards for all poaching investigations, although the amount they pay out varies by species. ODFW also offers preference points as a substitute for a cash reward. In this case, if tipsters so choose, they can get five preference points rather than the $4,500.