Early Sunday morning Block Management Technician Dave Walter received a tip that would eventually lead local game warden Todd Tryan to a gruesome scene.
Scattered across an approximate two-mile radius, Trynan uncovered eight dead or mortally injured mule deer, including two pregnant does, one deathly injured fawn and 22 spent 12-gauge shells.
“I’ve seen senseless killing before in my 10 years, but this incident ranks right up there among the worst,” said Tryan. “I’m also tired of having to put wounded animals like that fawn out of their misery, all because of blatant disregard for Montana’s public resources.”
The scene in northern McCone County left Montana personnel shocked as none of animals were properly tagged, and were shot using a load typically reserved for upland birds.
“This type of cartridge would never be used for big game, so these animals likely suffered considerably,” said Tryan.
As the investigation progressed, officials reached out for public assistance and on Wednesday, announced they had identified those they believed to have been involved in the egregious case of wildlife poaching.
Thanking the public for their support, social media shares and phone calls, the department has since handed over the case to the McCone County attorney, with charges pending.
“Our job is not to prosecute the case, our job is to present the evidence and details of fish and wildlife crimes to the proper county attorney for prosecution,” said Region 6 warden captain Ron Howell. “Ultimately, it will be up to the McCone Co. Justice Court to determine the outcome.”