Three men in Southwest Virginia are facing jail-time and major fines for animal poaching, accused of killing newly restored elk.
More than one-million-dollars was spent reintroducing the herd to the War Fork area of the county back in 2012. Killing them in Buchanan County, Wise County, and Lee County is illegal. Officers want the crime punished to the fullest extent of the law.
A couple months ago, conservation officer Sgt. Jamie Davis said the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries began an investigation into poaching, after a bull elk's body was found abandoned without it's head.Three men were charged with killing two elk and two calves. Charges against Nelson Drummond include killing an elk, shooting wildlife from a vehicle, and killing elk with the use of lights. Charges against Joseph Deel and Derek Deel include killing a deer with aid of lights, conspiring with another to kill elk, and conspiring with another in wanton waste of an animal. All three face jail-time and $25,000 in fines and replacement fees for the animals.
Sgt. Davis said investigators used surveillance video, but help from area sportsman were the key to the investigation.
"These are not hunters," he said, "I want the hunters to know. Hunters do not shoot animals and leave them laying. This is definitely poachers."
Boyd is the chair of the Southwest Virginia Coalfield chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. He was part of the organization when it donated $300,000 to help get the 71 elk into the area at about $15,000 a piece. He believes the replacement fees don't cover the money and efforts spent getting them in the area.
Replacement fees for an elk are $5,000, $7,500 for a bull with two-points or more.
The goal for the elk is to grow the herd to about 400, then institute a lottery system for hunters to keep the herd healthy and at a manageable number.