Hunters place three elk heads on Abbotsford roadside to scare off partiers

Warning: Graphic image posted at bottom of story

This large elk was spotted among cattle on Sumas Mountain in October 2016.

This large elk was spotted among cattle on Sumas Mountain in October 2016.

WARNING: Graphic photo is posted at the bottom of this story.

Hunters fed up with crime in a neighbourhood in the Auguston area of Abbotsford issued a unique warning to troublemakers on Thursday morning: They placed three elk heads side by side at the edge of the road.

Nearby residents were stunned at the discovery – which some described on social media posts as “horrific” and “heartbreaking” – with many people demanding answers.

The animal heads had been placed on Farina Road, a gravel road just west of Sumas Mountain Road that is bordered by forest and which turns into Auguston Parkway East, a residential neighbourhood.

The Abbotsford Police Department and Conservation Officer Service were quickly notified of the discovery, and the mystery was soon solved.

Conservation officer Don Stahl said he was able to confirm that the elk involved had been legally harvested by three individuals as part of a limited entry hunting (LEH) draw for an area near Hudson’s Hope.

An LEH allows people who have a hunting licence to have their names entered into a random draw to participate in hunting opportunities in selected areas.

At least one of the three hunters involved in the incident was from Abbotsford, Stahl said.

He said he was able to quickly determine the identity of that individual – he wouldn’t say how – and speak with him to confirm the circumstances.

Stahl said the hunters had been concerned about the number of people dumping garbage, using drugs and partying along Farina Road, and placed the elk heads there to scare them off.

“The hunters realized it wasn’t a very ethical thing to do, but they were just tired of crime … They were very apologetic,” he said.

The hunters were given a written warning and instructed to dispose of the elk heads in another manner.

Stahl said the matter was on the “low end of seriousness” for wildlife offences.

He said the report of the elk heads caused some initial panic with the Conservation Officer Service because of worries that the animals involved had been illegally poached.

A small group of elk – about four or five cows and one bull, according to Stahl – have taken up residence on Sumas Mountain over the last year and a half, and they are protected from hunting.

In September 2015, a young elk was spotted near Whatcom Road and Highway 1, and Stahl said it was the first time he had seen one in Abbotsford, although he said the creatures were on the increase in the Fraser Valley.

Last October, a large bull was spotted on Sumas Mountain, including among cattle.

Stahl encouraged citizens to immediately report the illegally killing of elk, deer, sturgeon or other wildlife to the conservation officer reporting line at 1-877-952-7277.

(Photo below: Three elk heads were placed at the side of Farina Road in Abbotsford on Thursday morning.)