Troopers Seek Help In Musk Ox Investigation

Alaska State Troopers seek the public’s help in getting information about the musk ox found shot dead Oct. 20 across the river near Bethel. The poaching has also been on the mind of Bethel city council member Mark Springer.

“I am going to put on my qiviut hat and say how sad I am that someone would be callous enough and thoughtless enough and heartless enough to shoot a 3-year-old musk ox across the river,” Springer said.

Qiviut or musk ox wool. Photo from Oomingmak.
Qiviut or musk ox wool. Photo from Oomingmak.

Springer spoke about the incident at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday night.

The animal was determined to be a 3-year-old bull. He was shot once approximately three days before he was found near fish camps by the old airport.

Alaska State Troopers and a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game conducted a necropsy. Nothing had been salvaged and the meat had spoiled.

Springer went on to say that he hopes whoever killed the animal is caught and that it’s an embarrassment to that person’s community wherever he’s from.

“You know these musk ox are cool animals,” Springer said. “I’m a qiviut addict, I’ll admit it. A lot of people make a good living from utilizing their wool. And you don’t even have to shoot them to get their wool, you just pick it up off the ground. If you see a musk ox, admire them and leave them alone.”

Even though there is no hunt on the Kuskokwim River at this time that could change if the population grows.

Ken Acton is a Seargent with the Alaska State Troopers.

“We need to get those herds to build,” Acton said. “You know, we’re lucky to have this herd come in here. They wintered here last year and if we can leave these animals alone and have that population we could have, you know in the future, a sustainable hunt for these animals.”

Troopers are asking anyone who might have seen the animals alive or knows about the shooting to contact them.

“We’re just asking for their cooperation. They can remain anonymous,” Acton said. “Wildlife Safeguard does offer a reward so there is a potential reward surrounding this incident.”

The reward would be given out after someone was prosecuted for the crime.

Wildlife Safeguard’s toll-free number to call is 1-800-478-3377.