Poached elk

Deborah Flanigan of Chaffee, Missouri, has been charged with shooting an elk in a field at the end of State Highway M in Carter County on Nov. 18, 2019 and abandoning the animal.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has announced that a Scott County woman has been charged with illegally shooting an elk in November 2019 and abandoning the carcass with no meat taken.

Deborah Flanigan of Chaffee, Missouri, has been charged by the department with shooting a cow elk in a field at the end of State Highway M in Carter County on Nov. 18, 2019, and abandoning the animal.

Randy Doman, MDC protection chief, said there was a lengthy investigation by conservation agents which culminated in interviews with the suspect in late August.

The conservation department has issued citations to Flanigan, 50, for the “illegal take of a protected species (elk)” and “wanton waste or abandonment of wildlife or parts thereof commonly used for human consumption.” Both charges are misdemeanors.

The investigation began on Nov. 20, 2019, after agents were informed of a dead cow elk in a field near the end of State Highway M on National Park Service property.

While investigating the incident, agents took pictures and extracted two bullets from the carcass of the animal. The bullets were sent to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory for ballistic testing. There was also additional evidence obtained from the scene.

“We are grateful to have made an arrest in this poaching incident,” Doman said. “Thanks to the diligence of our conservation agents, along with the assistance of our state and federal law enforcement partners, we were able to identify a suspect and close the case. We look forward to working with the Carter County prosecuting attorney to see this case through to completion.”

At the time of the 2019 incident, there was no hunting season for elk in Missouri.

The case is one of six involving the illegal killing of elk that the department has been investigating over the last several years.

He said the five remaining investigations are ongoing and MDC is asking for help from the public in collecting information.

There is a $20,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

“The restoration of elk in Missouri is appreciated by many people, businesses and organizations in the area,” Doman said. “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.”

MDC asks that anyone with information regarding the other five cases of elk poaching report it to Operation Game Thief by phone at 800-392-1111 or to contact MDC’s Ozark Regional Office in West Plains by phone at 417-256-7161.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.