IRONS — Wildlife conservation officials are looking for the person who illegally shot a rare albino deer that was found last week in Irons in northern Lake County.
The doe is said to have been beloved in the surrounding communities. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said in a June 1 Facebook post the deer was shot by a crossbow (likely from the road) between 5-7 a.m. the day before.
In Michigan, deer hunting season doesn’t start until September. Had it been in-season, harvesting the deer would have been legal.
The DNR launched an investigation into the matter and seeks help from the public to identify the suspect.
“The local residents got to know this deer because of its uniqueness,” DNR Lt. Joe Molnar said. “Because of that uniqueness we decided to put the press release out and try to get any additional information we can possibly get on it.”
Hundreds commented under the DNR’s Facebook post calling for the suspect’s prosecution.
Additionally, the Poacher Strike Force, based in North Carolina is also looking into incident. Company President Tony Wisniewski said the organization is offering a $3,500 reward to anyone who identifies the suspect upon their arrest.
“See something, say something. If you know that someone is shooting at night or you’re an outdoorsman and you know someone that’s always the guy that kills that trophy buck, make a phone call.”
Killing a deer out of season is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of five to 90 days and a fine between $200 and $1,000 along with the cost of prosecution. Poachers also may be required to reimburse the state up to $1,000 for the deer.
“This, like any other natural-resource-related violation, we urge people to give a call when they see something illegally happening,” Molnar said. “Conservation officers cannot be everywhere, and our numbers are limited so having an extra set of eyes and ears in the woods is a definite help.”
Reach the DNR’s Report All Poaching Hotline is 1-800-292-7800 and Poacher Strike Force Tip Hotline: 877-PSF-TIPS (877-773-8477).