Poachers sought in Box Elder 'elk ivory' felonies

Dec 15 2013 - 9:01am

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GROUSE CREEK -- The state Division of Wildlife Resources is asking for the public's help in the investigation of two bull elk poached near Grouse Creek in remote north Box Elder County.

The animals were taken for their "elk ivory," as the upper incisors are known, valued as trophies and for jewelry making.

Brandon Baron, a DWR Box Elder game warden, said the antlers were not taken, and most of the meat left.

The poacher or poachers removed the set of two teeth from each carcass. "It is appalling to a lot of people," Baron said. "Certainly not worth committing two felonies."

Despite posting to the DWR website, wildlife.utah.gov, so far the division has received no information of any kind since the estimated Aug. 31 kill of the two animals, found a couple hundred yards apart just south of Grouse Creek, Baron said. "Nothing. No calls, no tips, no leads, nothing."

Baron said hunters often take "the ivories" from an elk kill. But he's never seen a poacher leave the antlers, which have an international market with Asian countries valuing elk antlers for medical purposes, even as an aphrodisiac.

"They never take the ivories and leave the rest to rot," he said. "That was a first for me," said Baron, a 10-year DWR veteran. 

One animal was shot three times, the other once.

Anyone with any information on the Aug. 31 illegal kill is asked to call the division's UTiP Hotline at 1-800-662-3337.

The elk were discovered by the landowner, who contacted the DWR. The area in which the carcasses were found was a remote site southeast of Kilgore Springs, a few miles north of Utah Highway 30.

The teeth go for anywhere from $200 a pair, to as low as $16. 

A blog on a U.S. Department of Agriculture website carried recent posts with a mini-debate on elk ivory, one poster claiming a set can go for $300. Which drew multiple skeptical responses.

Elkusa.com earlier this week was offering a set of elk teeth for $16. An offering of one set for $35 was listed as out-of-stock.

Aaronsjewelry.com offered tips on removing the elk ivory, advising wrapping pliers in cloth, even posting a video showing the technique while warning the video might be offensive to sensitive viewers.

Baron said the Grouse Creek kills left most of the animal's meat to waste. But the elks' hindquarters were removed, he said, which should be a clue for alert tipsters. The DWR pays reward money for information that leads to a conviction in court.

Contact reporter Tim Gurrister at 801-625-4238, tgurrister@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @tgurrister.

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