Lincoln County man charged with possession of elk parts

HAMLIN, W.Va. — A Lincoln County man faces charges after the West Virginia Natural Resources Police recently discovered him in possession of shed elk antlers and a “dead head.”

The possession of elk parts was made illegal as part of the program which cleared the way for reintroduction of elk in West Virginia. Special restrictions were included in the stat’s elk management plan to minimize the disturbance of elk in the area where they were released.

“The elk program is in its infancy, so we’re trying to enforce laws that have any effect at all on the elk. Biologists go out and get these sheds and use those to help with the overall health of the heard. Also, we don’t want people going out and getting them and it becomes a thing where they’re selling them on-line and what not,” said Sgt. Larry Harvey of the Naturel Resources Police.

NRPO Gage Harvey learned the suspect, who officers would not identify, possibly had possession of several sets of shed anglers from the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area. Officer Harvey along with Sgt. Harvey, Sgt. Runyon and Officers Miller and Holloran and West Virginia State Police Cpl. Ramey served a search warrant at the individuals home in Lincoln County where they had learned the antlers were stored.

“We found the sheds pretty easily, but he had the six-by-six dead head hidden in the attic,” he said.

The man admitted to collecting the parts from the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Mingo County. But even without his admission, officers say they could prove that’s where they were from.

“We have DNA on everything to do with the elk. We can tell what shed goes with what and what number the dead head would be. They all have numbers and they all have tracking collars,” Harvey explained.

The dead head has been missing for quite some time. Harvey said biologists had been trying to figure out what had happened to the bull for quite a while after the collar stopped providing a signal.

“There’s no way to prove he didn’t kill the elk himself. At least we can charge him with possession and keep him from wanting to do it in the future. If he had a dead head and there was nothing we could do about it, then he could go out and shoot an elk and claim he found a dead head somewhere,” he explained.

The individual was cited with six counts of Illegal Possession of Elk or parts thereof. Each charge carries a possible penalty of $1,000 to $5,000 in fines or confined in jail for 30 to 100 days, or both.

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