Unlikely Duo Raises $21,000 for Information on Slaying of Six Elk in Park City Last Winter
Six elk were found shot in the Snyderville Basin in an area north of I-80 in early January. The killings were done outside of elk hunting season and a sizable reward was raised by many who found the act abhorrent.
The elk were shot and left to die without having their meat or antlers harvested. When the community learned about the killings, a couple of unlikely neighbors – Jon Nowaslowski and Andrea Buchanan – started a GoFundMe campaign that has raised $21,000.
Nowaslawski believes it makes Park City a safer place for wildlife because it sends a clear message to others.
“I do know for a fact that the person who did this is a coward. Regardless of your intentions if you do that, you're (a) bad human being and if you did that you probably told your friends and hopefully the reward will make those friends flip,” Nowaslowski said. “Still it really was an unfortunate way to lose these big boys. But it really did bring the community together. I mean I'm a hunter. Andrea, my neighbor made put together this fund you know she's a vegan you know we're unlikely friends, but we banded together with this, across the spectrum, red, blue, purple, whatever. Everyone's angry about this.”
Lt. David Beveredge is with the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources and says they had some leads on the case but have yet to arrest anyone. The wanton destruction of elk or deer is a class A misdemeanor and each elk is valued from $750 to $8,000. He has 15 law enforcement officers who work in Northern Utah and they’ve prosecuted plenty of poachers. He says usually, hunters or citizens who see something irregular report it.
The money has not been paid out because no arrests have been made. Nowaslawski says he wants to hear from the more than 200 people who donated because his promise was to either return the money or give it to support wildlife organizations.
“Our intent was to use it as an incentive to bring the guy to justice and a dis-incentive to anyone trying to do this again,” he said. “So, if you're thinking about poaching in Park City or Snyderville Basin, you're going to see what we've done here. And you know we’re going to come after you. The community is going to get together and we're going to do our best to put you in jail. You know we had a lot of really good suggestions about which charities would be the best recipients, but we kind of settled on two local wildlife charities. That being Save People, Save Wildlife. Those are the folks that have put all the fencing around I-80 and the Northern Utah Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, just because they’re local. You know they have visible impacts and all the money goes exactly where it's supposed to.”
Although no arrests have yet been made, Nowaslawski says people are using the DWR U-TIP hotline to report issues and he says there were significant leads.
“We got lots of leads on the case, everything from folks who are living right there to folks who heard or saw things, from physical evidence that was picked up,” he said. “But the last thing I want to do is make some DWR investigation harder. So, I'm just going to let them speak for themselves on what happened with the investigation. But yes, absolutely, information came in once a reward got out there. Just from that and from everyone I talked to with their wonderful tips, people are paying a lot more attention now.”
The six-month deadline for returning or donating the money is Aug. 24. Nowaslawski says he has sent out emails to everyone who donated to the reward but has only heard back from a little over 20 people.