A group of about 100 hunters coordinated to cull a herd of elk in Montana, leading to a backlash from wildlife officials and the hunting community. Though mostly legal, the mass culling of 50 elk near White Sulphur Springs is receiving a lot of criticism.
Six among the group of hunters were issued citations for a handful of violations. Although some reports say as many as 30 to 40 of the elk were abandoned and went to waste, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks department, or FWP, says only one elk was abandoned while two others were confiscated.
All three elk were processed and the meat donated to a food bank. The six facing charges are being accused of a handful of violations including shooting from a road and having improper or invalid licenses, all misdemeanor charges with fines up to $1,000 and possibly two-year license suspensions.
“We’ve been seeing a lot of frustration, people venting their frustration on social media in response to this,” said Greg Lemon, spokesman for the FWP. “We’re just as frustrated with the ethic violations and compromising as everybody else is. Unethical actions by hunters, in a circumstance like this, gives hunting as an activity, a real black eye.”
“This is really one of those places where the line between doing what’s legal and doing what’s ethical, is really troubling,” Lemon continued. “It’s one of the main commandments of ‘Hunter Ed’ is to know your target, and what’s beyond, before you fire. When you’re shooting at a herd of elk, that’s, that’s hardly ever possible. The other — one of the other commandments of ‘Hunter Ed’ is to take good ethical shots.”
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“A lot of times when you have herds of elk running back and forth, hunters are going to be shooting — have to be shooting at moving animals — which isn’t, frequently is not a high percentage shot and results in wounding,” he said. “So while it might be legal, it’s truly not ethical.”
“There’s a lot of people that don’t like hunting in general and what does this say for the people that enjoy this? It’s giving us a bad name and it’s giving ammunition for those people that want to restrict hunting rights,” David Sterner told KRTV.
“Truthfully, you really want to just vomit, when you hear it,” said Bill Galt, whose brother owns the land where the culling took place. “I mean, it makes you sick to your stomach and I think the community, in general, is that way. It’s just like somebody punched you in the belly when you see that happening or hear about that happening.”