CARTER COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- A $20,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to the conviction of the person who shot and killed an elk last month in the southern area of the Mark Twain National Forest.

Poacher kills elk in Carter County

The Missouri Department of Conservation said the female adult elk was left for dead on Nov. 18 near the end of Highway M in Carter County, about 150 miles south of St. Louis.

No meat or other parts of the animal were taken, conservation staff said, but by the time they found the dead elk it was too late to salvage the meat for donation.

This is the sixth elk killed by poachers in the last several years, according to the department of conservation. The $20,000 reward will be offered to the first conviction in any of the six killings.

“The [Missouri Operation Game Thief] reward monies have been donated by the public and reflect how much Missourians care about conservation, our native wildlife, and the laws that protect them,” Chief Randy Doman, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, said.

If you know anything about this investigation or other elk poaching, you can call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111. This hotline is managed 24 hours a day and you can remain anonymous.

According to the conservation department, elk were once found throughout most of Missouri until the mid-1880s. That’s when market hunting erased free-ranging elk from the state’s landscape.

“Poaching is stealing precious wildlife resources from all Missourians, and this must be stopped,” said Conservation Federation of Missouri Executive Director Tyler Schwartze.

From 2011-2013, the Missouri Department of Conservation reintroduced 108 elk captured in Kentucky into the Peck Ranch Conservation Area in the Ozarks. The conservation department said these elk are part of a 200 animal herd roaming Carter, Shannon, and Reynolds counties.

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