Missouri’s Operation Game Thief (OGT) announced that $20,000 will be rewarded to the first conviction received on any of the six elk poaching cases conservation agents in Missouri are investigating.

Missouri conservation agents recently found a female adult elk shot and left for dead on National Park Service property near the end of M Highway in Carter County. Conservation agents said no meat or other parts of the animal were taken, and the meat was no longer salvageable for donation by the time the dead cow elk was found by agents.

This is the sixth elk killed by poachers over the past several years, according to Missouri's Department of Conservation (MDC).

MDC Division Chief Randy Doman said investigations into each of the deaths are ongoing.

“The OGT reward monies have been donated by the public and reflect how much Missourians care about conservation, our native wildlife and the laws that protect them,” Doman said. “We appreciate this strong support to help bring in information that could lead to convictions.”

The OGT is Missouri’s anti-poaching program that was started in the early ‘80s as a joint program between the MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) to work with the public to help catch poachers.

“Poaching is stealing precious wildlife resources from all Missourians, and this must be stopped. We are offering this reward amount in hopes of finding those responsible for committing these selfish acts,” CFM Executive Director Tyler Schwartze said.

Anyone with information on the open elk-poaching investigations should report it to the OGT at (1-800) 392-1111. The hotline is managed 24 hours a day, and callers may remain anonymous.

Callers should request to be considered for the reward if the information leads to a conviction.