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spectr17
05-28-2003, 10:04 PM
Wardens Race the Clock to Catch Poachers

Western Hunter.com

5/26/03

More than 150 miles north of Las Vegas lies the town of Panaca, Nevada, home to nearly 1,000 Nevadans. Panaca has no traffic lights, one gas station and somewhere around Panaca, a poacher who has yet to be caught.

Time is running out to find the poacher(s) responsible for killing and leaving three bull elk to waste in southeastern Nevada in mid-2001. Though they had promising leads early on, game wardens investigating the crime have been unable to pinpoint the poacher(s) responsible for the two-year-old crime.

Since the grisly discovery of the three poached elk, the statute of limitations for Nevada has all but run out. "Our state's statute of limitations is two years," says Rob Buonamici, deputy chiel warden and Operations Game Thief (OGT) coordinator for the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW). "Our deadline has nearly passed for state charges."

The animals were poached on the Nevada/Utah border, about 25 miles from Panaca in an area called Prohibition Flat. Since the animals were poached on the border, certain federal laws apply to the crime, giving the game wardens at NDOW a second chance to catch those responsible.

"Poachers are not hunters," said Dennis Roden, game warden in Panaca. "Poachers masquerade as hunters, so they can steal our state's resources."

Unfortunately, like the state statute of limitations in Nevada, the clock is ticking on the federal charges. To get more information, and hopefully a break in the case, game wardens are asking for help from the public.

"It's very hard to get a bull elk tag in this state," said" Roden. "Nevada's bull elk are prized among hunters from all over the country who appreciate the animals because of their quality and size. When these animals are poached, the number of tags drop, making it that much more difficult for hunters to get a tag."

The poaching case centers around three bull elk that were left to waste in the parched Nevada desert. The heads were missing on all three, but during the investigiation, game wardens located where one of the heads had been hidden. The discovery gives game wardens a very good idea of when, where and how the elk were poached.

"A legal hunter will never have an opportunity to hunt these elk," said Buonamici. "It's not like a stolen car. These elk were taken from all Nevadans with no chance of recovery. All we can do now is catch those responsible."

A VHS videotape is available with scenes re-creating the poaching. Anyone with information on this crime should contact the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 800 - 992-3030.