PATTEN, Maine — Wardens are trying to track down a poacher or poachers who they said shot and killed a moose and left nearly its entire carcass to rot.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife shared a photo of the dead animal with its distinctive antlers protruding through freshly fallen snow.
Warden Sgt. Josh Beal said the wardens who discovered the animal discovered it was killed with a single shot. Then, its backstrap meat was removed.
Beal said it's common for poachers to remove whatever valuable meat they can quickly gather and then leave behind other typical trophies like antlers.
That also meant hundreds of pounds of meat were left to spoil on the ground.
"When a poacher shoots and leaves an animal like this, not only are they wasting it, but they’re also taking an opportunity away from an ethical sportsman who may have the opportunity to harvest that animal," Beal said.
Brandin Knowlton is a hunter from Auburn. He and his father were applying for a future hunting license for Brandin's nephew. The pair said they've seen the warden service's post about this poaching.
The father declined to share comments about the poacher(s) on the record, cursing off-camera as he spoke.
"We take that pretty seriously because we respect the animals that we kill," Knowlton said. He said they hunted in Patten this fall. Knowlton's father won his third moose hunting permit after applying dozens of times since the 1980s.
"I know people that have put in every year and never have gotten one," he said.
With his permit, the father killed a bull this fall, and Knowlton said the family and their friends will eat its meat for years to come.
According to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website, 4,030 permits were awarded for moose hunting in Maine during 2021. The majority of these permits were drawn through an annual lottery system, and hunters are not allowed to apply for the lottery within three years of their last permit.
This makes Maine's moose hunt a coveted event each year.
For the Knowltons and Beal, that makes the illegal killing completely unacceptable.