Two Park City locals have organized a Go Fund Me page that is accumulating thousands of dollars which will be used as reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for killing five to six bull elk in the hills above Bitner Road.
KPCW reported last week that at least five of the elk were killed with a 22-caliber bullet. Wildlife officials say using this type of weapon would have caused a slow, tortuous death for the animals. DWR officials have not confirmed the cause of death of the sixth bull elk.
John Nowoslawski lives in the area near Bitner Road and he enjoys seeing the herd of bachelor elk that winter in his neighborhood. He first learned of the deaths about a week ago when he saw a Next-Door post on Facebook from a person living on Knob Hill. The Department of Wildlife Resources believe the killings occurred sometime during the month of January. Nowaslowski and his neighbor, Andrea Buchanan decided to act, and together started a Go Fund Me account. It’s been up since late last week and they’ve collected almost $19,000 as of this report.
“We’re really thankful for everyone stepping up and contributing in such a way. I mean we're at almost $19,000 now. Hopefully that makes somebody say what their buddy told him or a rumor that they heard or anything that we can pass along to the great folks at DWR.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resource Conservation Officer Jonathan Moser says they’ve received many calls from the public about the case. He reports they have received tips from a variety of sources.
“I think that’s absolutely amazing that people are willing to step up and stuff like that. I know there's got to be somebody out there who knows something or sees something or has seen something. Even these little tips we’ll follow all the way out.”
Nowaslawski says they’ve passed along tips to the DWR but can’t comment on the status of those leads.
He’s doing everything he can, and I’ll let him speak for himself. The best thing we can do is raise the money and get it out there in front of people who may or may not know something and in that regard yes we're having tons of traction.”
He says Go Fund Me regulations require the money be returned after six months if no payout occurs. Nowaslawski says any donated legal advice is appreciated. He believes the larger the reward purse, the more likely they’ll catch the poacher.
“Yes, you can absolutely keep donating and the more money that's there, the more incentive it's going to be for somebody to provide the information that I'm sure is out there that will lead to this guy going to jail. With something like this it's a pretty horrible person. If you're that type of person, I'm sure you're going to turn on your friends for money. I really think it provides a deterrent to future potential poachers in this area and we're going to come after you if you poach here.”
Andrea Buchanan, co-sponsor of the Go Fund Me Site, says she is stunned by the support and thinks every amount donated will help the effort to track down the poachers. Buchannan is a screen writer and thinks the story is fascinating because she’s discovered that hunters are the most aggrieved by the slaughter and cruel way the elk were left to die. She says if there is a silver lining, it’s the way a community has rallied around the shared value of protecting wildlife.
“There’s just been so much division in society and our world and country and it's been very heartening to come together with this community in the name of the elk and wildlife and there's old people, young people, hunters, vegans. They're all working together to figure this out.”
A link to the Go Fund Me Page can be found on KPCW.org.
The DWR Conservation Officer Jonathan Moser is handling the case and can be reached at 801-476-2740. All observations and comments are welcome.
KPCW has learned of an additional $20,000 offered by Trevor Milton based on his Facebook post made March 1. It is not yet determined if the reward money will be combined with the nearly $20,000 raised on the Go Fund Me page. Milton has not responded to KPCW’s messages.