A reward of at least $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the killing and decapitation of a female bighorn sheep in the southeast corner of Washington late last month.
The Washington chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) is offering the reward and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) may provide additional money and/or future hunting permit preference points for information that solves the case.
The killing of a big game animal during closed season is a gross misdemeanor subject to criminal penalties of up to $1,000 and a year in jail, plus civil penalties of $4,000.
The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ewe's body, minus the head, was found by local residents on Nov. 22 in the Grande Ronde River on WDFW's Chief Joseph Wildlife Area near the county road bridge in the south end of Asotin County. WDFW fish and wildlife officers report the sheep's body was evidently dropped into the river from the bridge.
The bighorn sheep population in southeast Washington is rebuilding from severe losses due to disease in the mid-90's, and no special hunting permits are issued in the area by WDFW. The loss of a ewe is biologically significant to a herd relying on lamb production for recovery.
WDFW officers hope that with the popularity of steelhead trout fishing on the Grande Ronde now, plus the growing number of residents in the area, someone saw or heard something that will aid the investigation.
Persons with information should either call WDFW's poaching hotline, 1-800-477-6224 or the Asotin County Sheriff at 509-758-1668.