November 18, 2019 - From Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks - Originally published in the Montana Standard
A 23-year-old Roundup man was arrested Friday in the poaching of three trophy bull elk in August in Musselshell County, according to a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks press release.
Earl Russell Benes — who had his hunting privileges suspended last year after being caught running down pronghorns with his vehicle and then killing them — faces two felony and 19 misdemeanor charges. He was jailed on a $10,000 warrant but has posted bond and been released.
The charges stemmed from two incidents in which trophy bull elk were killed with a gun fired from a vehicle on a public roadway at night. Two elk were killed 10 miles east of Roundup along Highway 12 on Aug. 17. One was killed along Dean Creek southwest of Roundup on Aug. 20.
The crimes prompted Montana’s 1-800-TIP MONT program and two Montana sportsmen’s groups to offer rewards totaling $3,000 for information leading to a conviction. The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife each added $1,000 in reward money. After the rewards were offered, a concerned citizen called with information that eventually led to the arrest, according to FWP game warden Randy Hutzenbiler.
Benes is charged with two felonies: criminal endangerment for discharging a handgun in close proximity to another individual; and aggravated cruelty to an animal for shooting one bull elk in the neck with a handgun, then leaving it to suffer before it died.