Animal rights group offering big rewards for poachers

The Humane Society of the United States recently offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for the shooting and waste of a deer off the Lake Creek Road in the Wood River Valley last month. 

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officers began investigating the case in mid-June when a doe mule deer and the remains of two fawns were found three-quarters of a mile north of Lake Creek Lake in a popular camping area north of Ketchum.

Evidence was collected at the scene. Officers believe the incident happened June 11-12 and are hoping to get the help of the public to solve the case.

The case is curious because rewards for poaching typically come through Idaho Fish and Game's Citizens Against Poaching program, and local hunting organizations often kick in extra money for rewards.

But the Humane Society of the United States, which often opposes legal hunting and trapping, not just poaching, is spreading money around for rewards for poaching convictions.

According to a recent article in the Medford, Ore., Mail Tribune by reporter Mark Freeman, a black-tailed deer poaching recently brought together "two of the most unlikely bedfellows — the Medford-based Oregon Hunters Association and the Humane Society of the United States."

Freeman reported groups combined to put up $5,250 in reward money — $5,000 of it from HSUS, and "The OHA and the Humane Society are long-time political polar opposites who can agree on one thing — illegal wildlife killing is a horror they both want to abate."

You can read Freeman's story about the case here.

An animal rights group that opposes poaching, and often legal hunting, makes an interesting situation for hunters and fish and game departments. The same group that is chipping in money to help catch a poacher this week may later return with anti-hunting legislation, or a citizens-initiative campaign to stop legal hunting methods.

That occurred in the 1990s when groups from outside Idaho tried to stop bear baiting and hound hunting, methods Humane Society of the U.S. has helped end or prevent in other states.

Hunters spent tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of volunteer hours fighting that initiative, which was time and money that could have been spent improving habitat or other things that benefit wildlife.

It will be interesting to see whether Humane Society of the United States' intentions are to help stop poaching or to get a foot in the door and come back later with some kind of anti-hunting or trapping campaign in Idaho.

By the way, you shouldn't need a fat reward to do the right thing. Killing a doe with fawns is despicable, and anyone with information about who is responsible should step forward and bring the poacher to justice.

People can either contact CAP at 1-800-632-5999, 24 hours a day, or call the Fish and Game Regional Office at 324-4359. You can remain anonymous and still be eligible for a reward.