Man cut off moose’s head and left it to waste in Montana, officials say. Now he’ll pay

Someone found a moose with its head cut off and abandoned in Montana about two years ago. Now a man will pay thousands for the killing.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks received a report of a poached moose with its head cut off in November 2019. The dead moose was found on a road about 17 miles east of Townsend, wildlife officials said.

Officials also spotted distinctive tire tracks and boot prints near the moose.

Game warden sergeants Justin Hawkaluk and Josh Leonard, and criminal investigator Ben Womelsdorf hold 56-inch-long antlers of a moose that was poached.

In the years since, Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials followed evidence to track down the person who left the moose behind. It’s illegal to leave behind or otherwise waste any part of a game animal that’s deemed “suitable for food,” according to state statute.

“In April 2020, wardens received another tip that (a Helena man) possessed moose antlers he claimed to have found in the same area where the moose carcass was discovered,” the wildlife agency said in a Feb. 15 news release.

The man also had boots and tires that matched the tracks left near the animal’s body, according to officials. He told wardens he killed the moose during an interview.

The 41-year-old pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a game animal, hunting without a valid license and waste of a game animal in the fall, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

On Friday, Feb. 11, he was sentenced and ordered to pay $12,100 in fines and restitution. The man is also banned from hunting for life in Montana and cannot fish for three years.

If certain conditions are not met, the man could spend five years in prison, according to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The killed moose had antlers that were 56 inches wide, officials said.

Moose are massive animals, weighing between 800 and 1,200 pounds. They can stand up to 6 feet tall, according to wildlife officials. They are “extremely curious” and want to check everything out.

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