25 Antelope fall prey to poaching in Nebraska
A grisly discovery was recently made in Morrill County, Nebraska, only an actual grizzly was not to blame. Instead, it was another kind of monster that struck, one of the two-legged kind. The victims in question were antelopes, 25 of them to be exact, shot illegally and left to rot in a winter wheat field. They had been killed out of season and then carelessly discarded, their lives and meat both wasted. Their carcasses had been dragged into an area of tall grass, likely in an effort to hide the carnage, but it was stumbled up despite these measures and reported to authorities.
It was in the area of Broadwater, Nebraska that wildlife officials sought answers that would explain this heinous act. The carcasses of the antelope were fresh enough that it was estimated they had been killed in the past week. After local residents called attention to the scene, wildlife officers responded to find the dead antelope in an area that is not usually heavily travelled but is typically used by farmers as well as some hunters. In this area, an access road runs between two main roads, and it is there that the antelopes took their last breath.
As sportsman and hunters who toe the line, hunting legally and paying careful attention to bag limits, season dates, and other applicable laws, it is us that should be angered by an act such as this. Not only does it give hunters as a whole a bad name, but the amount of waste associated with killing 25 animals out of season and leaving them to waste is mindboggling. As people in this country go hungry, it is hard to fathom that so many animals were dispatched for no good reason and then simply discarded. To make matters worse, the animals in question were not only killed after the close of antelope season but also in many cases before reaching adulthood and their reproductive prime. Though some mature bucks and does were amongst the dead, so were fawns.
After taking in this harrowing sight, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission requested assistance from the public in locating the guilty party or parties responsible for the deaths of the antelope. A tip line was set up and a reward of $2,000 offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Sure enough the phone rang and an anonymous tip was made on Wednesday night. Since that tip, two men have been arrested.
Brent Hoerler, age 21, and Taylor Mueller, age 24, were interviewed by Nebraska Game and Parks officials and admitted to killing the antelope. For now they have been charged with hunting without a permit, hunting out of season, spotlight hunting, and wanton waste but that very well could be the tip of the iceberg. Since shooting an antelope is a misdemeanor that comes with a fine of $1,000 per antelope, they still have that to contend with as well as other fines and penalties which could cost them their fishing licenses, hunting licenses, and firearms permits as well.
Although the loss of these game animals, especially fawns, is tragic, the community in Morrill County, Nebraska as well as the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission have come together to put up a unified front. Together they have sent a message that this type of act will not be tolerated on their turf. It is unfortunately too late for the 25 antelope needlessly killed in this case, but it is not too late for justice.
Should you have any information regarding this case, you can do so anonymously by contacting Nebraska Wildlife Crimestoppers at 1-800-742-7627, Conservation Officer McKeehan at 308-279-9133, or Conservation Officer Jim Zimmerman at 308-641-6138.