DINOSAUR, Colo. – A bull elk likely targeted for its antlers was illegally shot and killed in northwestern Colorado earlier this month, and investigators are looking for two people who might have been involved.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials found the elk's headless carcass near the community of Dinosaur on Nov. 8, according to a news release Wednesday. They believe the elk – which was described by nearby residents as "docile" – was shot through the abdomen two days earlier, on Nov. 6, and that it wandered onto a local ranch and died.
Investigators learned that two people were spotted near where the elk died, a few hours before authorities found the animal. One might have been wearing a camouflaged hoodie. Investigators also have two descriptions of the vehicles that might have been involved: A white 80s model Chevrolet pickup truck with Utah plates and a newer silver Chevrolet pickup with its plates obscured by mud.
"It appears that the only thing these individuals wanted was the elk's antlers, which were unusual and distinct," CPW Officer Garrett Smith said in the news release. "This was a 6-x-5 bull elk, so it is considered a high-quality animal, and they left the meat to waste, meat that could have fed a family for up to a year."
The area where the elk was killed is designated as Game Management Unit 10 and considered a high-quality hunting area. A hunter might wait up to 20 years to be eligible to draw a license for the area, Smith said, making the illegal killing "especially egregious."