Colorado wildlife officials believe the seven decomposing elk carcasses they recovered in February could be due to poaching rather than natural causes.

“We have recovered evidence at the scene and received tips from the public that indicate that these animals did not die of natural causes,” Steve Baumgartner, district wildlife manager, said in a news release.

“We do know that they did not die of starvation.”

After examining the carcasses, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported that the cows and calves were found within 700 yards of each other and are believed to have been shot with a small-caliber gun.

The elk were found near Routt County Road 56 just northwest of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Baumgartner went on to plea for help from the public in an attempt to solve this mysterious case.

“If you heard something, saw something or maybe heard someone else say something, please let us know right away,” Baumgartner’s statement said.

“It may not seem like a very important detail, but it can be the missing piece of information that we need to solve a case like this.”

H/T: Denver Post