Illegally taking a game animal

When it comes to law enforcement in northern Michigan, we work hand-in-hand with other departments on complaints all the time.

I started my career with the Michigan State Police at the Newberry Post, and my back-up while working the day shift was the local sheriff’s department and the guys in green, better known as the conservation officers with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

No matter the call, the DNR were there and had my back.

The case I am going to share with you today is a case the DNR is still working on from last fall, the case of the two poached elk in Montmorency County. The following is information released by the DNR to the public back in November 2018.

“Michigan conservation officers in the northern Lower Peninsula are investigating the illegal killing of two bull elk, north of Atlanta. The carcasses of the two animals were discovered Saturday off Montmorency County Road 622, near Roth Road.

“‘The location is about seven miles north of Atlanta, just south of Clear Lake State Park. Both elk were shot, likely sometime around Nov. 15,’ said Lt. James Gorno, a district law supervisor with the DNR in Gaylord. ‘If anyone saw anything or has any information that would assist with the investigation, we’d like to hear from them.’

“Tips may be left anonymously, and monetary rewards often are offered for information that leads to the arrest of violators. To contact investigators, call the DNR Law Enforcement Division at the Gaylord Operations Center at 989-732-3541 or call or text the 24-hour Report All Poaching line at 800-292-7800.”

To me, it is important to bring that case back to light, as it carries some very heavy fines the public may not be aware of.

I contacted the DNR and asked from some clarification as to what criminal charges those who porched the elk could face.

I was informed that, under the Wildlife Commission Order, if a person is found guilty of poaching the two elk, they would be charged with a misdemeanor.

That misdemeanor could cause the person to be sentenced to imprisonment of one year, and charged fines and costs of approximately $1,000.

The part that caught me off guard is that, in addition to the fines and costs, the state could charge restitution of approximately $5,000 per animal.

The person who illegally took those two elk also would lose their hunting rights for four years. The person(s) also could face forfeiture of any and all equipment used to commit the crime, including their firearm, pickup truck or all-terrain vehicle, and any other equipment that may have aided them in the kill of the animals.

Often, cases of that nature are only solved with the assistance of the public who may have heard rumors or gossip around town.

If you know even the smallest detail, please reach out to the DNR by calling or texting the 24-hour Report All Poaching line at 800-292-7800.

Ashley Simpson is a Community Service Trooper for the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post. If you have a question for Trooper Simpson, you can email her at or mail them to Ask A Trooper, Michigan State Police-Alpena Post, 3283 W. Washington Ave., Alpena, Mich., 49707.