Comprising of 17,000 acres of land in the Ozarks region of Oklahoma, the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve lost one of its prized possessions this winter. The body of “Hollywood”, a large elk that called the reserve home was found in January, beheaded.

The large bull was particularly fond of people and was never shy to have his photograph taken by visitors, as hunting has never been permitted within the protected conservation area.

Elk, once a prominent fixture in the Ozarks, had been missing from the landscape for roughly 150 years up until 2005. In 2004, an Elk Reintroduction Feasibility Study was undertaken in the region with the goal of eventually reintroducing elk to the preserve. The Conservancy reintroduced an elk herd to the region in 2005 and Hollywood was a by-product of this reintroduced herd.

As word traveled, interest began to develop as so many in the region knew of both Hollywood and the efforts of returning a healthy elk population to the region. With contributions from The Nature Conservancy, NatureWorks, individuals and non-profits, the reward for information leading to the conviction of Hollywood’s poacher has now increased to $5,200.

“I feel like people look at it like, here’s an organization trying to do a reintroduction of wild elk to this area, something the public is able to enjoy, and when a poacher comes in and removes one, people kind of take offense,” Jeremy Tubbs, director of the J.T. Nickel Preserve told the Tahlequah Daily Press. “It’s kind of a cowardly act, and there are so many people who knew that specific elk. They were used to seeing him, so they’d like to see the person who killed him caught.”

Anyone with information regarding Hollywood’s poaching can contact Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Game Wardens Brady May, 918-431-2552; Tony Clark, 918-431-2562; or Capt.. Joe Adair, 918-585-1117. To contribute to the award, contact the J.T. Nickel Preserve at 918-585-1117.

H/T: Tahlequah Daily Press