CMR seeks information on poached moose

Young bull likely shot in early September
Katherine Sears
Managing Editor
Friday, October 15, 2021
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Two moose peruse through the brush on a winter day on the Charles M. Russell National Refuge. CMR officials are seeking information about a moose shot and killed on the refuge in early September. Photo courtesy of Deborah Goeb, CMR

Wildlife officials are looking for information on a young bull moose that was illegally shot and left to die on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in early September.
Federal Wildlife Officer Deborah Goeb with CMR said she estimates the moose was around two years old, and was likely shot around opening weekend of the archery season, which began Sept. 4. Though the refuge is open to deer and elk hunting, shooting moose on the refuge is illegal.
“I’m fairly confident to say it was shot close to opening weekend because of the state of the animal,” said Goeb. “It possibly died within one or two days of being shot.”
The animal appeared to be gut shot, though Goeb said that is an educated guess since the animal wasn’t reported until late September.
“It was shot with a bow the best we can tell,” said Goeb. “Though it’s hard to tell that long after.”

A press release from CMR reported the animal was found on the south side of the Missouri River and the antlers were removed a short time after its death.
After gathering accounts from several hunters who saw the moose both with and without its antlers over the last month, CMR officers determined the antlers were taken sometime after Sept. 15.
“Someone reported it late September, so that leaves about a 10-day span when the antlers were taken,” said Goeb.
Based on information obtained throughout the investigation, officers believe a small jon boat was seen at or near the kill site around the time the antlers were removed. Goeb pointed out they may not have been the ones who took the antlers, but they could have more information about the incident.

Moose on the CMR
The presence of moose on the refuge is not common, but they have frequented the area more often over the last several years, according to Goeb.
“This is rare,” said Goeb. “We’ve had a couple moose hanging out this fall, but they are usually only here in the spring and then they’re gone.”
Goeb said as many as three moose have seemed to stay in the area over the last two years, and have spent the majority of their time on the north side of the river.
“The moose have always hung out on the north side [when I’ve seen them],” said Goeb. “I think this animal was shot on the north side, but I can’t prove that.”
Since the moose was discovered on the south side, Goeb can only surmise what took place in early September. The moose could have fled across the river after being injured, or it could have been shot on the south side and died there.
“Whether this was an accident or on purpose, we don’t know,” said Goeb. “Maybe a hunter thought it was an elk, but elk hunters are usually very specific about what they are shooting.”
Goeb pointed out elk hunters will typically count points and study the animal to make sure it’s a bull they want to take. But, someone could have shot into the brush not realizing it was a moose.
“I doubt it was an accident,” said Goeb. “But maybe someone shot it thinking they can shoot a moose here.”
However, she believes two separate people were involved in the shooting and taking the antlers.
“I think it was two different people,” said Goeb. “That is me taking a trained, educated guess.”
“If it would have been reported earlier, we could have at least gone in and removed the antlers and the temptation for someone to take them,” she added.
Shooting a moose on the refuge is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and six months in prison, but is highly dependent on the events that occurred.
“A big part of it depends on what happened,” said Goeb.
That’s what she wants to find out, regardless of circumstances of either the killing or the taking of antlers, which is illegal, unless a special permit is issued.
“Someone could just be mistaken and thought they were legal to take them,” said Goeb. “Someone knows what happened. Let’s talk.”
Aside from this incident, Goeb said it has been a good year for hunters and elk on the refuge.
“It’s been really quite a good season,” said Goeb. “It’s been hot for the elk and hot for the hunters. It’s been a good year until this.”
Goeb asks that anyone with information about the incident contact the CMR at (406) 464-5181, ext. 13.