Yukon conservation officers are investigating after three caribou were found wasted this week near the Dempster Highway.
On March 29 someone found two shot and abandoned bull caribou near Kilometre 191, just south of Engineer Creek. The carcasses were left about 130 metres west of the highway.
A third caribou was reported shot and abandoned at Kilometre 208, said conservation officer Shawn Hughes. Officers haven’t been out to confirm the third kill themselves but have seen pictures, he said.
It is an offence under the Yukon Wildlife Act to abandon an animal and waste edible meat.
Warm weather and scavengers make it difficult to tell how long the caribou had been dead, Hughes said.
The best guess is that they were killed sometime in the last week, possibly over the Easter weekend, he said.
The animals all belonged to the Porcupine herd. The licensed hunt for the caribou is closed, but they can still be taken through subsistence hunting by Yukon First Nations.
“We’re looking for either witness information from anyone that saw anybody hunting in those areas or near those areas. Even vehicle descriptions would be helpful,” Hughes said.
He also encouraged whoever killed the animals to come forward.
“Anyone that was hunting there, we’re hoping that they’ll come forward and talk to us and explain what happened or what might have happened,” he said.
“It’s not always as cut and dry as people think when we discover these types of things.”
This is the start of the caribou’s spring migration to their northern calving grounds, Hughes said.
Hughes said the majority of the hunters in the area are respectful, responsible and ethical.
“It’s unfortunate when we have these few incidents of bad scenarios like this with hunters that are not showing those qualities. It
gives hunters in general kind
of a bad name.”
Anyone with information about the dead caribou is being asked to call the TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525 or Dawson City district conservation office at 867-993-5492.