GLACIER NATIONAL PARK - Four elk were illegally killed inside Glacier National Park on Dec. 30. The elk were apparently shot not far from the St. Mary headquarters area.
A herd of elk winters on the flats near the lake, where high winds usually keep the grasses free of snow.
Park spokeswoman Denise Germann confirmed the incident late last week, but few other details were released. Germann said charges are pending in the case.
One of the worst poaching cases in several years, the matter is being handled by the office of the U.S. Attorney for Montana, which wouldn't release further information on the case. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office could not be immediately reached.
The last high-profile poaching case in Glacier park occurred in January 2000 when two men allegedly killed and decapitated two bighorn rams near Spot Mountain in the Two Medicine area. Bailey D. Peterson and Glenn W. Hohmann were charged in that case.
Peterson was subsequently convicted of two felony counts of violating the Lacey Act, which prohibits the sale of wildlife when taken illegally. Hohmann, was acquitted of charges of conspiracy and of violating the Lacey Act, based on his testimony that he was unaware he was inside the park when the bighorns were killed.
In that case, Peterson maintained he had a right to hunt in the park. He claimed the 1896 treaty for the U.S. government's purchase of land from the Blackfeet Tribe that created most of the park's east side gave tribal members hunting and other land-use rights.
His appeal to the U.S. Ninth Circuit District Court was later dropped because Peterson was trophy hunting, not subsistence hunting, and tribal attorneys didn't think it was a good case to test the treaty.