Authorities say a bull moose was shot and illegally left to waste in the Highland Mountains south of Butte, the second time that’s happened in the area this fall.
The moose was shot between Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 east of Melrose near Camp Creek, said Shane Yaskus, a game warden with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The inside spread of the antlers of the moose measured more than 35 inches.
“Coming from Melrose, the moose was located after Camp Creek Road leaves private land but before Camp Creek Reservoir on the north side of the road,” Yaskus said.
Hunting season for moose in Montana runs through Dec. 1 but you must have a special permit to take part and they are only given out through annual drawings, with only so many per district.
Yaskus said there are only four issued for bull moose in this district, which includes the Highlands, runs close to Interstate 15 all the way down to Dillon and includes the Whitehall and Twin Bridges areas.
Regan Dean, who is also game warden in the Butte area, said there are only five given out for a district that includes the Pintler Mountains.
Even if the moose was shot legally, it is a crime to abandon one and leave it to waste. That alone carries a $500 fine and loss of hunting privileges for two years, Dean said.
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Depending on a bull moose’s age, not all antlers are full and paddled.
“It’s possible that someone could have mistaken it for an elk and the guy got up there and said, ‘Oh no, what do I do?’” Dean said.
The answer is to report it to Fish, Wildlife & Parks, he said. You could still be fined up to $135 for such a mistake, Dean said, but you wouldn’t lose your hunting privileges or face penalties for leaving the animal to waste.
Anyone with information on the moose left in the Highlands is asked to call 1-800-TIPMONT. Callers are kept confidential and a reward of up to $1,000 is possible.
“We are hoping someone heard something or someone saw something,” Yaskus said.
He said such incidents involving moose are very uncommon but there was a previous one in the Melrose area earlier this fall. There is an ongoing investigation into that one as well, he said.