Reward offered for "Bullwinkle’ poacher
Visitors to Piney Lake and the Piney River Ranch 13 miles north of Vail often spotted Bullwinkle – a large, resident bull moose – browsing in the willows or wading in the lake during the last two years.
Due to the frequent sightings, he and several other moose became local celebrities with staff and visitors. But Bullwinkle sightings won’t be happening again.
The moose was killed a couple of weeks ago by someone with a bow and arrow, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife is offering a reward to find out who did it. Hunting moose is illegal in Eagle County.
“That’s devastating,” said Linda Hanson, owner of the ranch. “We have grown attached to them. One evening there was a wedding on the deck and as the sun set he waded into the lake People were just awestruck.”
Division of Wildlife officers say the animal was apparently killed by a bowhunter because the carcass had two arrows in it. It was found approximately 50 yards off the road near the entrance to the ranch.
Bullwinkle was a prime Colorado moose. His rack measured 41 inches across.
“That’s big for a bull moose in Colorado,” said Craig Westcoatt, a district wildlife manager. “It’s one of those deals that just shouldn’t have happened.”
The incident was investigated by the Division of Wildlife’s Kelly Wood, who said because the animal was killed with a bow and arrow, it probably wasn’t a case of mistaken identity. Moose are larger and look much different than elk or deer.
“They were close enough to know what they were shooting,” she said. “We don’t have any leads on who might have done this.
The penalty for willful destruction of wildlife is a felony punishable by jail time and stiff fines.
From the condition of the carcass, the officers estimate it was killed approximately two weeks ago, which is during bow hunting season.
Moose were reintroduced into Colorado’s North Park in the 1980s after being extirpated from Colorado. The new herd spread up and down the Colorado River drainage with several making regular, seasonal appearances at scenic Piney Lake. Moose have even been spotted in Vail and Avon.
There is a moose hunting season in North Park, near Walden.
Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or firstname.lastname@example.org