Game wardens are looking for information on the poachings of two white-tailed deer bucks and a spike bull elk in southwest Montana within the past two weeks.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said in a press release the agency is looking for more details from the public as it investigates the unlawful killings. Spokesperson Morgan Jacobson said even seemingly insignificant details can be helpful.

“These investigations rely heavily on input from people out in the field because they’re out there pretty frequently and our wardens have wide areas to cover,” Jacobsen said.

The spike bull elk was found on Nov. 23, on Montana State University’s Red Bluff Ranch, north of State Highway 84 and east of Norris, having been shot and abandoned, according to the press release. The animal had decomposed and the meat was not salvageable. Several cow elk carcasses were found nearby and had already been harvested.

A white-tailed deer buck that had been shot and abandoned was found on private property near Three Forks. It was killed some time between Nov. 24 and Nov. 27. The press release said it was likely shot from a road.

Another white-tailed deer buck was found on private property in the Four Corners area near the Gallatin County gravel pit. It was shot and left on the evening of Nov. 30. The animal was shot with a rifle in a weapon-restricted area. The meat of the animal had been spoiled by the time it had been found.

Jacobsen said that each year, a few hunters accidentally kill animals in restricted areas and promptly report it. In these cases, the meat can be harvested and donated to a food bank, and fines are minimized.

“It’s unfortunate when we have incidents where a mistake is made. But the only way to create something good to come out of it is if we can recover that meat and donate it,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen said that poaching is “essentially stealing from the public.” Money made from hunting license sales goes toward wildlife management, and poaching takes away from that, Jacobsen said.

“It’s a senseless waste of wildlife and opportunity that could have gone to someone who was willing to harvest an animal legally,” Jacobsen said.

People with information on the poachings can call 1-800-847-6668 anonymously and may be eligible for a reward.

Shaylee Ragar can be reached at sragar@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2607.

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