WATCH: A disturbing rash of elk poaching in the Cowichan Lake area has conservation officers on guard and locals doing daily patrols to try to catch who’s behind it. Skye Ryan reports.
Two elk were found killed on the outskirts of Lake Cowichan on Boxing Day and this past weekend, the carcasses of two more were found poached close by.
Lake Cowichan is on watch as news spreads that another of the town's famed and beloved elk has been found poached on the outskirts of town.
"You go to a coffee shop, they're talking about the elk," said local Denis Martel. "We've even got them named by the residents. They name them," said Martel.
The area's majestic Roosevelt elk that come down from the mountains surrounding Cowichan Lake, are commonly found in people's yards and are admired by many. But now four have been found poached in the area since Boxing Day, the latest two in Meades Creek.
"As the snow falls and the snow packs get higher, the elk move down," said Conservation Officer Mark Kissinger.
"And they feed in these forested areas with lots of fern and that's usually by the roadside. So they come down and they feed and they bed right by the roadsides so people basically drive up and shoot them."
So Martel is volunteering on the Cowichan Wilderness Watch to patrol areas the elk, and now clearly poachers, frequent. He is talking to neighbours and looking for anything out of place.
"You know once they're poached there is no more," said Martel. "You know if you poach them all, then this is gone.