Hunter Claims Carcass Of Elk Was Left To Rot On Private Property

An Iowa hunter who shot a Wyoming elk that made it to private property before dying said he wasn't allowed by the landowner to retrieve the animal, and the carcass was left to rot.

Mark Heinz

October 07, 20223 min read

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A Wyoming bull elk that was shot on public land Monday, but made it on to private property before dying a slow death, was left to rot, the hunter who shot the bull claimed.

Josh Sunberg, an Iowa resident who frequently hunts in Wyoming, said he went back to the kill site later this week to see if the bull’s carcass was still there, and it was. 

“By that time the meat would have been spoiled already,” Sunberg said in a text message to Cowboy State Daily on Friday. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department declined to comment further on the matter, agency spokeswoman Sara DiRienzo said in an email to Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

Wanton Waste Of Game Meat Illegal

It’s illegal to deliberately let the edible portions of a big game carcass go to waste in Wyoming, according to Game and Fish regulations. However, hunters can be cited for that violation only if they fail to make every reasonable effort to recover game animals that they’ve shot. 

It’s also illegal to trespass while hunting in Wyoming. Sunberg on Tuesday told Cowboy State Daily that he couldn’t get the rancher’s permission to go on to the land that the bull had fled to after he shot it. 

He said he’d shot the bull through both shoulders and both lungs, but it still took about two hours to die after going onto the private ranch property. He also said the rancher, who he declined to identify, told Sunberg that he could not come euthanize or take the bull because the rancher didn’t have an elk tag. 

Strong Reactions

The story of the bull’s long demise, published Tuesday, garnered strong reactions from some readers who emailed Cowboy State Daily.

One who agreed to be quoted is Scott Smith. 

“I am a Wyoming landowner and I have never been more embarrassed by my home state than I am now!” he said. “I appreciate the hunter followed the letter to the law, and I respect landowner rights, but this so-called rancher is a disgrace!”

Smith said he works in Colorado, but owns land in Carbon County. 

Others, who did not agree to be identified, said they doubt the sincerity of Sunberg’s story. The hunter’s account should not be used as a measure of the integrity of Wyoming landowners, who themselves frequently must deal with bad behavior from hunters, they said. 

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter