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Four Facing Wildlife Crime Charges Following Unlawfully Killing of 4 Elk south of Cottage Grove
Senior Trooper Martin Maher
Fish & Wildlife Division - Springfield
(541) 726-2536

Photograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
Four Lane County-area men have been identified and are facing wildlife crime charges following the unlawful killing of four branch antlered bull elk Tuesday south of Cottage Grove. Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife Division troopers praised the help of a landowner in this ongoing investigation.
During the late morning hours of October 20, 2009, four bull elk described as a 3 point, 5 point, 6 point, and a 6x7 point, were unlawfully killed on private property south of London Road about three miles south of Cottage Grove. As the investigation began to unfold, Senior Troopers Martin Maher and Marshall Maher of the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division had contact with area landowners who reported hunters trespassed on private lands to retrieve the poached bull elks. They were part of a year-round herd that reached up to 70 elk.
The troopers identified four suspects and subsequently cited them on the following class A misdemeanor charges:
  • JOHN K. ATWATER, age 50, from Cottage Grove, was cited on four counts of Unlawful Taking of Bull Elk, and two counts of Borrowing an Elk Tag
  • DAVID PRUITT, age 78, from Creswell, was cited for Loaning an Elk Tag, and Aiding in a Game Offense
  • HOMER RHODES, age 74, from Cottage Grove, was cited for Hunting on the Enclosed Land of Another, Loaning an Elk Tag, and Aiding in a Game Offense
  • CHRISTOPHER STEVENS, age 35, from Cottage Grove, was cited for Aiding in a Game Offense
Additional charges may be pending. All four were cited to appear in Lane County Circuit Court on November 19, 2009.
The unlawfully killed four bull elk were salvaged by the troopers and the meat was taken to the Eugene Mission.