KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced on Thursday that a bull elk had been illegally poached in Anderson County and officers are investigating. The reward for information has also been increased from $3,000 to $5,000.

TWRA said in a news release that its agency was notified on Sunday, Oct. 8 that a bull elk had been killed. Upon investigation, the entire carcass was found with what appeared to be a bolt wound. A bolt is an arrow used with a crossbow.

“Poaching is a serious offense in Tennessee,” Caleb Hardwick, TWRA officer, said. “The TWRA has been working diligently since 2000 to restore the elk population to a huntable size. Poaching is not only illegal, but it threatens restoration efforts that ensure Tennesseans have the opportunity to legally hunt these animals.”

The elk head was taken into custody by TWRA officers as evidence and the carcass was taken in for processing to support the Hunters for the Hungry program.

A reward of $3,000 was donated by the Campbell Outdoor Recreation Association, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation, and the National Wild Turkey Federation Pine Mountain Longbeards Chapter to support the investigation. On October 20, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Bucky Ingram both donated $1,000, increasing the amount to $5,000.

TWRA said that rewards are available for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poacher.

Information such as the person’s name or description, vehicle tag number or description, and location of the offense would greatly assist the TWRA in apprehending wildlife poachers. All information received by TWRA is kept in strict confidence. Anyone with information about the poacher can contact the East Tennessee Regional Poaching Hotline at 1-800-831-1174.

Elk harvest is regulated by a quota permit system and the next application period for elk quota hunts is Feb 7-28, 2024, according to TWRA. Nineteen (19) quota permits are issued in designated Elk Hunt Zones. A legal deer hunter may harvest an elk incidental to deer hunting on private and public lands open to deer hunting except in Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Scott, and Morgan Counties and except for Big South Fork River Recreation Area.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated after the reward increased.