- Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Alaska Wildlife troopers are searching for whoever is responsible for poaching two muskox that were found along a snowmachine trail near Bethel.

Trooper Brett Gibbens said one muskox was found dead Sunday, while the other was found limping with several gunshot wounds and had to be put down, KYUK-AM reported (https://bit.ly/2oPem89).

Both animals had been shot multiple times with small caliber firearms.

“Not large caliber rifles like you would normally use if you were going to target muskox, if you were going muskox hunting,” Gibbens said.

No meat had been salvaged from either muskox, but troopers have since donated the meat to charities in Bethel.

The person who first spotted the wounded animals reported seeing several four-wheelers and one snowmachine leaving the area between Bethel and Akiachak.

The poachers could be charged with taking muskox in a closed area and failure to salvage edible meat.

Troopers are offering a cash reward for information that leads to the prosecution of whoever caused the death of the animals.

The killings of animals that are part of a small population can limit the potential for legal hunting of entire herds.

“Basically, these satellite herds of muskox that move in from the coast come in and establish new territories,” Gibbens said. “And the exciting thing about that is if they’re not poached, they could set up new herds and new territorial ranges and those herds could grow, possibly, to legally huntable populations.”

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Information from: KYUK-AM, https://www.kyuk.org

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