14-Year-Old Missouri Girl Shoots and Kills Elk, Thought It Was a Deer

November 14, 2017 Updated: April 8, 2019

A 14-year-old Missouri girl made the shot of her short lifetime.

Abby Wilson saw antlers and a brown body in a wooded area. Then, she pulled the trigger.

Abby thought it was a deer. But instead, it was its larger cousin, an elk.

“She called her dad, who was hunting nearby, and her dad realized it was an elk,” said Tom Strother, who is the regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, USA Today reported.

“The dad called our agent in Boone County, Adam Doerhoff, and said, ‘We think we just shot an elk.'”

“The dad sent me a photo to my phone and it was very clear that, yes, that’s an elk,” Doerhoff said. “You don’t expect to see something like that. I’ve learned to never say never.”

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Missouri doesn’t have an elk hunting season. And it’s not clear where the elk came from.

“Our elk biologist wants some parts to figure out where it may have come from,” Strother said. “There are no reports of elk in this area. It was kind of a surprise to us. There was no evidence of any ear tags or collars on this one.”

“We don’t have any knowledge of free-ranging wild elk” in Boone County, where she shot the elk, or the immediate area, Robert Hemmelgarn, metro media specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, told the Columbia Missourian.

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“There’s an ongoing investigation as to where this elk came from.”

Shooting a wild elk in Missouri is technically a crime.

According to the Columbia Missourian, her case was closed several months later. Details of the case weren’t closed because Abby is a juvenile.

“The investigation into violation of the Wildlife Code of Missouri has concluded,” Missouri Department of Conservation spokesman, Robert Hemmelgarn told the outlet. “Conservation agents consulted with juvenile court authorities who reached an appropriate resolution. The details of this investigation will not be shared because the subject involved is a minor.”

The elk meat was tested for safety, and it was taken to a meat processor in Boone County.

The Missourian reported that the meat was given to needy families in the area.

The elk’s antlers are now being used for “education purposes,” said officials.

Zombie Deer Disease in 24 States

The latest update from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic wasting disease, sometimes called “zombie deer disease” in the media, has spread to 24 American state and two Canadian provinces.

A map shows the occurrence of CWD in the United States. (CDC)

States to have reported the disease, known as CWD, include New York, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Nearly every county in Wyoming has reported instances of CWD. A number of counties in Colorado also experienced the disease.

In January 2019, “ there were 251 counties in 24 states with reported CWD in free-ranging cervids,” the agency said.

The illness attacks the brain, spinal cord, and other tissues in elk, deer, and moose. The disease eventually leads to the animal’s death, but it first makes them lose weight, slows their coordination, and they also turn aggressive, the agency said.

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