The reward for information about the poaching of a 10 1/2-year-old, full-curl ram in Shell Canyon east of Greybull in late December 2001 has been upped to $7,000.
Dozens of concerned citizens, the Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep are pleading for anyone with information about the crime to call the Stop Poaching hotline at (800) 442-4331.
Last year two men were arrested and convicted for poaching two bighorn rams along the North Fork of Shoshone River, in a case that outraged the state. Greybull game warden Bill Robertson hopes that same spirit will produce a tip to break open this case.
Robertson said in addition to taking the head, the violator or violators also took the hindquarters and backstraps from the animal. So in addition to hearing about someone who didnt have a license come up with a set of horns, anything heard about someone suspicious having some bighorn venison should also be reported, he said.
The ear tags were removed and left at the crime scene, enabling Robertson to check the records and determine the animal was 10.5 years old. It was released into the canyon in 1994 at 3.5 years old. The ram was one of 111 bighorn sheep transplanted from Whiskey Mountain and Idaho into the canyon from 1992-94 to re-establish the species in the Big Horn Mountains.
Robertson says the ram was shot in lower Shell Creek Canyon about 75 yards west of the Beef Bridge. He asks anyone remembering seeing a vehicle stopped at the pull-out there or repeatedly cruising that stretch of U.S. Highway 14 from December 21-31, 2001 to also call the hotline.
He reports the poacher would have crossed Shell Creek on ice bridges to access the carcass.
Robertson adds that more than just viewing opportunities were stolen from citizens when the big ram was poached. The crime eliminated the chance for someone to find the horns in the future after the animal succumbed to natural causes, he said. People occasionally find decades old horns and are elated to have the relic.
He urges even second- or third-hand information about the crime to be reported. Its not unusual for something just heard in passing to be the crack that opens up a poaching case, Robertson said.
Callers can remain anonymous and will be eligible for the $7,000 reward if the information leads to a conviction.
The Wyoming Chapter of FNAWS has hiked their reward contribution to $4,000. The Wyoming Wildlife Protectors Association, the organization administering the Stop Poaching program, is offering $3,000.
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