A deer poacher who shot a buck on the grounds of Oglebay Park on Tuesday is being sought by state National Resource officials.
DNR Police Officer Steve Haines said an Oglebay Park ranger briefly confronted the suspect on property near the park's Par 3/ski area after receiving reports of someone shooting nearby Tuesday morning. However, the man took off, eluding officials near Pogue Run Road.
"Yesterday an unknown individual shot a rather large 10-point buck in the park. He was about 50 yards off the road," Haines said. "I responded along with the sheriff's department and West Virginia State Police. We came close to apprehending him but with the snow, there were so many accident calls that the deputies and state police had to leave."
Although the suspect got away, Haines recovered the buck for evidence.
Rod Haley, vice president of operations at Oglebay, said hunting is strictly prohibited at the park and anytime they receive a report of someone who might be hunting, they contact the Ohio County Sheriff's Department.
Haines said the poacher must have had a vehicle parked near Pogue Run Road to get away so easily.
"We are concerned that someone would poach a deer in the park but we might have an even bigger issue here," Haines said. "Someone involved in wildlife crimes often is involved in other criminal activity. That's why it's important for the public to call authorities whenever they see something like this."
Haines said the hunter may have had an accomplice who also could face charges.
Anyone with information about the incident at Oglebay or any other concerns can call Haines' district office at 304-825-6787.
"If someone is hunting where they shouldn't be, you can always call 911 or the sheriff's office or local police. They will notify us," Haines said.
Haines said DNR officers often run into other crimes when investigating a wildlife issue. Recently in Romney, W.Va., DNR officials found more than 300 marijuana plants.
"I have to say that 99 percent of sportsmen are great folks. It's only a few that cause problems," Haines said.
Ohio County resident Peter Cuffaro, a DNR commissioner, said he has worked to have fines increased for wildlife offenses as a way to deter poaching and other crimes.
"We have to crack down on poachers," he said. "It's dangerous and no true hunter would do this."