'Lock her up': Girl who mistakenly shot elk 'bullied' as wildlife officials decide her fate

While in the same family, deer and elk are very different. (USA TODAY)

SPRINGFIELD, MO. - Wildlife officials have not decided whether any citations or warnings will be issued after a 14-year-old mistakenly shot a protect elk. 

Abby Wilson, 14, shot the elk on Saturday in Boone County, thinking it was a large white-tailed buck. Her father, Donald White, immediately called the Conservation Department upon realizing his daughter's mistake.

"There is no elk season in Missouri, so free ranging elk are protected," said Tom Strother, an MDC Protection Regional Supervisor. "It is a Wildlife Code violation to shoot a free ranging elk as there are no provisions that outline a hunting season like there is for white-tailed deer."

As of Tuesday, conservation officials had not finished their investigation into the unusual case or decided whether warnings will be issued. 

Abby's story went viral Monday, with hundreds of people posting comments about her mistaking an elk for a white-tailed deer. White said he was upset by some of the comments that he felt amounted to bullying his young daughter over her mistake.

"There's no sense in it, people doing that," he said. "Don't come at my daughter saying lock her away. Wow. If my daughter gets fined, I'll pay it and move on. So be it. We'll deal with it."

White said he later spoke with conservation officials in hopes they would let his daughter keep the antlers, cape and meat, which he said would be shared with his family.

"I'd make sure everybody around my family would have some of that," said White, who was nearby but not with Abby when she killed the bull elk with a single shot from her .243-caliber rifle.

"As I understand it, they (MDC) hold the rights to any game in Missouri," White said. "We got a good relationship going with them, so we hope something positive comes out of it."

MDC is refrigerating the elk carcass and may donate the meat to needy families if it passes its CWD test. Tom Strother, an MDC Protection Regional Supervisor, said staff talked to White on Monday "and informed him that no parts of the elk will be returned to him or the family."

The healthy bull elk is being tested for Chronic Wasting Disease, and DNA samples were collected to try to determine where the elk came from. It had no ear tags, collar or other markings.

Missouri's Wildlife Code sets out many aspects of how the state's wildlife can be taken or managed. Strother laid out how Abby's mistaken elk fit into the code.

The code is "permissive," meaning it sets out actions and activities that are permitted in Missouri. If they aren't specifically permitted, they are considered illegal, according to the code.

"Since there are no rules specifically permitting the shooting/hunting/killing of an elk it is prohibited to do so," Strother wrote.

"You can also Google something like 'Wildlife Code of Missouri rule 4.110 General Prohibitions' and find the entire wording on the Secretary of State’s website."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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