Two Springdale women were arrested Friday on poaching elk on private land in Newton County.
Rebecca Burkett, 27, and Joyce Stout, 57, face charges of killing elk out of season in addition to fleeing and several other misdemeanor charges, said Capt. Brian McKinzie with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission.
Also arrested in the case was Clifford Lee Burkett, 52, who is Rebecca Burkett's husband and Stout's brother, said McKinzie. He was charged with hunting out of season, criminal trespass, and aiding, accompanying and abetting.
Newton County Sheriff Keith Slape said all three were booked in at the jail in Jasper on Friday and released on bond.
On Sunday, Jan. 29, Game & Fish received a call that two elk were dead just west of Boxley Valley.
Landowners said they saw two people run from the kill site, across a county road and into the woods, according to a Jan. 30 post on the commission's Facebook page.
"Upon arrival, officers found two dead bull elk that had been shot," according to the Facebook post. "One elk had the tenderloins removed and there was evidence that the head was in the process of being removed."
The hunters left some "items of evidence" at the scene, according to the post.
A biologist collected samples at the scene to test for chronic wasting disease and DNA evidence. The animals tested negative for disease.
Afterwards, both animals were processed in the field and the meat was salvaged and donated, according to Game & Fish.
Several search warrants were issued as part of the investigation. One led to a storage building, where officers found a third elk that had already been butchered and was in a freezer, said McKinzie.
Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the commission, said elk antlers were found nearby. He said the number of points on the antlers of the three poached elk were 5x4, 5x5 and a 5x7.
Newton County -- along with Boone, Carroll, Madison and Searcy counties -- make up Arkansas' Elk Management Assistance Program Zone. It's the state's primary elk habitat. Elk hunting in the zone is restricted to permit holders, and quotas are strictly enforced.
Arkansas has an elk season in October and early November for the counties listed above.
A portion of Boxley Valley is excluded from the hunting zone. Boxley Valley, in the Buffalo National River area, is the most famous spot in Arkansas for elk watching. It's near the place where Arkansas 43 intersects with Arkansas 21.
Arkansas hunters harvested a record 55 elk last season. Eleven of those elk were taken outside the Elk Management Zone.
Last year, Game & Fish opened elk hunting outside the Elk Management Zone statewide.
"Any hunter outside of Boone, Carroll, Madison, Newton and Searcy counties who sees an elk while legally hunting for deer may take that elk with a limit of one, either sex per year," according to the agency's website.
Metro on 04/18/2017