Elk NetworkCitizens’ Observations Cement Wyoming Elk Waste Case

General , Poaching | July 14, 2023

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. For 2023, Fiocchi partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching and other incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.

Lewis Cornell of Fullerton, Calif. recently pleaded guilty in Park County Circuit Court to waste or abandonment of a big game animal.

On June 19, 5th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Joseph Darrah sentenced Cornell to fines, court costs and restitution totaling $6,790. In addition, he will lose his hunting privileges in Wyoming and 49 other states for two years. Wyoming participates in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. If a person loses hunting or fishing privileges in one state, the revocation is also in effect in all other partner states.

The case began last fall when several concerned citizens alerted Wyoming Game and Fish Department Game Warden Travis Crane that Cornell was hunting west of Cody in the Wall Creek area near Wapiti. Cornell was observed packing out a 6-point bull elk head and antlers, but did not appear to have any meat with him.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that Cornell had shot a bull elk and removed the head, but did not field dress the animal or care for the meat before leaving the carcass overnight. Cornell came back the next day and retrieved one hindquarter and the backstraps of the elk. During an interview several days later, Cornell stated that the elk had spoiled, and he was only able to salvage the meat that he took.

Wyoming Statute 23-3-303 (a) requires hunters to care for the edible portions of a big game animal that they harvest. Edible portions are defined as the meat along the backbone, the tenderloins and all four quarters down to the hock of the animal.

“Hunters have both a legal and ethical responsibility to retrieve edible portions of harvested big game animals from the field,” Crane said. “It is also critically important in grizzly bear country that you move the meat away from the carcass and hang it if you are going to leave it overnight.”

“Unfortunately, the waste of big game animals has become a more common violation that we deal with,” Crane said. “The judgment and sentence of this case sends a clear message that the intentional waste of a big game animal will not be tolerated in Park County.”

Tips and information about suspected wildlife violations can be provided online through the Wyoming Game and Fish website at wgfd.wyo.gov or by calling 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943-3847).

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)