A Scott County woman has been charged with poaching an elk cow in Carter County in November 2019, then leaving the carcass.

Deborah A. Flanigan, 50, of Chaffee, was issued a summons on charges of taking a protected species of wildlife, an elk, and leaving or abandoning any portion or wildlife. Both charges are misdemeanors.

The elk cow was found dead Nov. 18, 2019, on National Park Service property near the end of M Highway in Carter County, according to Missouri Department of Conservation officials.

No meat or any other parts of the animal were taken, and by the time the animal was found, the meat, which could have been donated, was no longer salvageable.

At the time, the case was one of six cases of elk poaching the MDC had been investigating over the last several years, prompting publicly funded Operation Game Thief to offer a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in any of the six cases.

About a year earlier, an elk calf that had been fitted with a tracking collar and was just a few weeks old, was found dead by a road in Shannon County.

The cow was the sixth elk killed by poachers over the last several years, according to the MDC. Randy Doman, MDC Protection Division chief, said each of the investigations is ongoing and emphasized the importance of the public’s cooperation in apprehending and prosecuting those responsible.    

“The restoration of elk in Missouri is appreciated by many people, businesses and organizations in the area,” MDC Protection Division Chief Randy Doman said of the cases. “A healthy, growing elk population brings significant economic, recreational and cultural benefits to these communities. The senseless waste of people’s resources should not be tolerated.”

Free-ranging elk were once found throughout Missouri, but had been wiped out by hunters by the mid-1880s. Between 2011 and 2013, 108 elk captured in Kentucky were reintroduced to the Peck Ranch Conservation Area. The herd has grown to about 200 free-ranging animals in parts of Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties, according to MDC officials.

Anyone with information regarding previous instances of poaching are asked to report it to Operation Game Thief at 800-392-1111 or the MDC Ozark Regional Office in West Plains at 256-7161.

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