A $20,000 reward is being offered for information about the recent killing of three elk near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the Mount Sterling area of Haywood County.
Last month, the North Carolina Wildlife Federation offered a $5,000 reward. The conservation organization has pledged up to the new amount to a person who provides information about the elk killings that directly leads to an arrest, a criminal conviction, a civil penalty assessment, or forfeiture of property by the subject or subjects responsible.
The three elk were killed around May 18, one bull with a .22 caliber firearm, a cow with a birdshot from a shotgun, and a pregnant cow with a undetermined gunshot.
“We feel strongly that this malicious and cowardly act of illegal activity has no place in North Carolina,” said Tim Gestwicki, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “We are upping the ante to hopefully entice anyone with information to come forth.”
The poached elk were part of a reintroduction program by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that began in 2002. Initially, 25 elk were brought to Cataloochee Valley where the herd has grown to 140 but have now spread beyond the park boundary. People come from far and wide to view the elk, significantly supporting local tourism.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission toll free wildlife violations number at 800.662.7137. Any awarded monies do not have to be made public..