Leaving elk carcasses: unethical or illegal?

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- Outrage over the waste of elk is plastered all over the KIMA Facebook page. People are enraged that elk and other animals are being shot and the carcasses left behind.     

"The animals are just target practice," Herb Horn said. "They're just laying out there on the ground rotting or feeding the scavengers. Very heartbreaking."

Horn is a hunter.

"We saw a gut pile with an intact heart and an intact liver and an intact fetus," Horn said. 

Accusations of animals being left for scavengers. Or hunters killing more than they need or can transport. Right after Horn found the waste, he called the poaching hotline. He took a game department official to the site the next day.

Horn says the game official didn't believe it was poaching. He says the people who likely left the remains had a permit to hunt during the offseason. KIMA has not confirmed any information on these hunters. But Horn understands that ethical lines are being crossed, not legal ones.

"Ethically, you know, I really believe in a lot of traditions when it comes to hunting, and one of them is take a good shot and take what you've shot," he said. "I mean, that's just what you're supposed to do."

Hunters fear their rights will be taken away if it continues. And, the animal population could be damaged.

"If we don't have bulls taking care of the herd, then the herd itself isn't taken care of, and if we have people going out out of season and taking as many bulls as they want, the herd itself is going to suffer," he said.

The game department is still working with Horn and continuing to investigate what they can do.

To be clear, KIMA is aware someone is being investigated. We called the game department and our calls were not returned. Without confirmation, we can't determine who might be connected to the dumped carcasses.