BOZEMAN, Mont. - Fish, Wildlife and Parks needs your help tracking down a poacher. Experts tell us someone shot down a cow moose for no reason in a popular recreation area near Bozeman. We spoke to a game warden and traveled to the area where it happened.
"If you wanted to call something poaching, this is it." FWP Region 3 Game Warden Sergeant Joe Knarr tells NBC Montana the cow moose was in good health. There was no reason to shoot it.
"It was an affront to any good sportsman or any outdoor person at all," says Knarr.
Knarr explains someone called their tipline and reported a dead cow moose on Saturday. The caller told them her calf was still there, crying. Knarr tells us the cow's calf's cries helped wardens pinpoint her exact location.
"It was sticking with the dead mom at that point," Knarr says.
We learned the calf became aggressive, protecting its dead mother, when wardens approached the cow moose. They used non-lethal rubber bullets to keep the calf away.
"We brought it back to the office here, we necropsied it. That's when we determined for sure that she'd been shot twice, once in the chest and once in the head...the angle of the shot and stuff indicates that the shooter was up on the road at the time he shot, at least the first shot," says Knarr.
Knarr says they determined the moose probably died midday Friday.
He explains moose numbers are low. Hunting tags are limited this year and so is the season, but it doesn't start until September 15.
"Right now, the moose aren't doing real great. We don't have a lot of moose like we used to 10 years ago, so every breeding female her age is important," explains Knarr.
The Moser Creek area is popular for recreationists. That's why Knarr says he's confident someone out there saw other people in the area or heard the shots, someone who could help them solve this serious crime.
"There's people that have information that we need to get and that's our primary focus right now is to get some additional information regarding the actual incident so we can start following up on some leads," says Knarr.
The yearling calf the dead cow left behind was also in good health and FWP officials say it has a fair chance at survival.