HELENA — Two 15-year-old boys have been ticketed for allegedly shooting and killing a pregnant cow moose in February northeast of Avon in what was described as a “thrill kill.”
One of the juveniles lives in Avon and the other in Deer Lodge. They were ticketed with taking, or attempting to take, the moose during a closed hunting season. They face up to a two-year loss of hunting and trapping privileges, as well as up to a $735 fine.
The boys aren’t being named publicly since they’re juveniles.
Joe Kambic, a game warden with Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said on Wednesday that while both he and the state’s telephone tip line got a lot of calls, those weren’t what led to the charges against the boys.
“I didn’t get a tip through TIP-MONT or anybody who called on this particular case, but I think it helped that the press coverage got the buzz going,” Kambic said. “A couple people also added to the potential reward.
“Moose are one of those iconic animals that everybody likes and people hated to see this happen.”
Kambic found the dead cow moose on Feb. 19, a day after people called the TIP-MONT office and reported spotting a calf moose near what appeared to be an injured cow moose near Carpenter and Ophir creeks.
The calf was spooked away by the people, and by the time Kambic arrived on the scene the cow was dead from multiple gunshot wounds from a small-caliber rifle. A necropsy was performed on the cow at the FWP lab in Bozeman. They discovered that the moose had been bred and would have delivered this spring.
Kambic and two other wardens salvaged the meat from the cow to give to a food bank.
The calf standing with the cow when it was shot was thought to be from the previous year and is expected to survive, since it already had been weaned and was feeding on vegetation.
Jim Kropp, FWP chief of law enforcement, said they appreciate all of the public interest in the case, as well as the phone calls and public donations that increased the reward potential for tips leading to a conviction.
“In the end, it was not tips from the public that made this case, but often times it is,” Kropp said. “We rely on information reported through the state’s (800) TIP-MONT wildlife crime reporting hotline to help in our investigations.”
The teenage boys are scheduled to appear in Powell County Justice Court on March 15.