Turnagain Arm Dall Sheep
Killed in 'Offensive' Shooting
Shot by poacher, 'Old One Eye' was a favorite among photographers
Just as the morning commute from Girdwood to Anchorage was slowing Wednesday, state wildlife authorities believe someone pulled to the edge of the Seward Highway just south of Anchorage and gunned down a magnificent, full-curl Dall sheep that has been impressing photographers and wildlife watchers for several years.
The soft, white body of the animal that photographers had nicknamed "Old One Eye'' was discovered about a half-mile south of Windy Corner around 10 a.m.
"The meat was still warm,'' said Chugach State Park chief ranger Mike Godwin.
"It kind of makes me sick,'' said Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement trooper Marc Cloward.
Godwin was the first to notice that the animal, discovered along the roadway, had been hit in the rump with a bullet from a large-caliber rifle or handgun. Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists had at first thought the 10- to 12-year-old ram might have slipped and fallen to its death from the cliffs above the highway, but the thinking quickly changed when Godwin put his finger in a neat, round hole that passed cleanly through both buttocks.
"This animal was poached,'' Godwin said, and obviously by someone who is a lousy shot.
"I can't think of anything more offensive,'' Cloward said.
"This was quite a favored monarch,'' Godwin said. "The professional photographers are going to miss Old One Eye.''
The ram was a member of a large and healthy Chugach State Park sheep population that numbers in the thousands.
Cloward is investigating the killing. He said it appears someone stopped along the shoulder of the highway between 8 and 8:30 a.m. and shot the ram off a cliff about 40 yards from the pavement.
"He shot him through both hindquarters, and he fell from there,'' Cloward said. The trooper spent several hours above the highway scouring the rocks for the bullet that passed through, but could find nothing.
"It's a pretty squeaky-clean crime scene,'' he said. "I have absolutely nothing to go on, but somebody had to have seen it.''
Cloward is asking anyone who might have seen anything suspicious in the area Wednesday morning to call him at the troopers detachment in Anchorage, 269-5954, or on his cell phone at 240-0860.
"I want to catch this person,'' Cloward said. "This is a slap in the face to every citizen in Anchorage.''
It is unclear, according to authorities, whether the shooting was merely a thrill killing, or whether someone wanted the trophy-size horns of Old One Eye. If it was the latter, Cloward said, the culprit might have left without taking them because one horn broke in the fall from the cliff.
"It took a fairly hard fall,'' Godwin said.
Fish and Game will keep the horns. The meat of the animal was recovered by a charity.
Meanwhile, photographers and others are mourning the loss. Doug Lindstrand said he was out in the cold photographing sheep along Turnagain Arm about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning when he learned of the kill.
"He was probably the biggest ram in the area,'' Lindstrand said.
Daily News Outdoors editor Craig Medred can be reached at 257-4588 or email@example.com.
Wolf Song of Alaska, P.O. Box 671670, Chugiak, Alaska 99567-1670