Area residents are disappointed and conservation officials concerned following the poaching of three bull elk in the Youbou area over the weekend, one of which is potentially contaminated meat.
Larry Williams, who lives along North Shore Road and is a member of Wilderness Watch, first received reports Friday afternoon that an elk might have been poached. Multiple neighbours encountered men on North Shore Road who “bragged” about having an elk under a tarp in the back of their truck.
Williams checked the area later that day and found an elk’s guts left behind in the woods. He returned with a neighbour the next day and uncovered a second kill site about 40 metres from the first. This time only the animal’s head, front quarters and hind quarters had been removed.
Hunting is prohibited between the road and Cowichan Lake.
On North Shore Road there is also no hunting or shooting within 100 metres of the road going up into the hills.
Both sites were within the no-discharge zone.
A third incident was reported to Wilderness Watch on Sunday when a local security company found a similarly harvested elk (just head, quarters and back strap removed), also within the no-discharge zone.
“It’s really disappointing. All of our neighbours up here love them,” said Williams. “They cause a bit of trouble but they’re our pets. We can almost walk up to them, so they’re pretty easy to shoot.”
One elk Williams has not seen was recently tranquilized and tagged by conservation officers in order to remove debris tangled in its antlers. It may have been one of the poached elk, meaning its meat could be unfit for human consumption.
“That drug is pretty potent. It can put an elk out that quick. You don’t want to have people eating that,” said Williams.
Conservation officer Mark Kissinger confirmed his office is investigating.
He said it’s unclear whether one of the poached elk had been recently darted and the effects of this kind of tainted meat on humans is unknown.
“It’s recommended that any tagged animal not be eaten within 30 days of being tranquilized,” he said.
Elk poaching at the Lake is not uncommon, although the numbers vary year by year.
“It’s gone from a high of 40 we’ve documented at one point down to maybe three some years,” he said.
The hotline for tips about this or other incidents is 1-877-952-7277.