Three men have been charged with the unlawful poaching and waste of deer and elk in the Metolius Wildlife Management Unit.
The charges followed an eight-month investigation by Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division, with the assistance of U.S. Forest Service law enforcement and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.
Senior trooper Mark Prodzinski and senior trooper Charles Lindberg began the investigation when locks were discovered shot off gates leading to critical mule deer winter range habitat.
Headless mule deer bucks were found, with their meat wasted, as were mule deer does that were shot and left to waste.
OSP Fish and Wildlife troopers worked wildlife enforcement decoy operations and late night patrols in the area with the assistance of air flight patrols.
During the investigation, troopers found other evidence of illegal deer poaching in different areas of the Metolius Unit.
Through evidence accumulated during the investigation, three main suspects were identified who are facing charges in Deschutes, Jefferson and Jackson counties.
The suspects are Cole A. Craig, 18, of Bend, Tyler S. Mitchell, 18, of Gold Hill, and Spencer A. Greene, 17, of Sisters.
Last weekend, Craig was arrested and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail on local area charges. He was also cited to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court on charges for allegations in that county.
Mitchell was cited to appear on charges in Jackson County, and Greene was cited to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court for taking deer in a closed season and three counts of aiding in a wildlife violation.
Charges for Craig included taking deer during closed season (Jefferson County, eight counts; Deschutes County, one count); taking elk in closed season (Jefferson County, two counts); waste of wildlife-deer (Jefferson County, seven counts; Deschutes County, one count); waste of wildlife-elk (Deschutes County, two counts); and hunting with aid of artificial light (Jefferson County, three counts).
Mitchell was cited in Jackson County for six counts of unlawful possession of deer parts. He was also cited to appear in Deschutes and Jefferson counties for taking deer in closed season (Jefferson County, five counts; Deschutes County, one count); waste of wildlife (Jefferson County, three counts; Deschutes County, one count); hunting with aid of artificial light (Jefferson County, three counts); and one count of criminal mischief in the first degree in Jefferson County.
The investigation is continuing.