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Two Eagle Point men charged in Lake Creek Road poaching case

Two Eagle Point men have been charged with a slew of wildlife crimes in connection with a wave of deer and elk poaching off Lake Creek Road this fall, Oregon State Police announced Wednesday.

Austin Burkett and Christian D. Cochran, both 19, were identified by a tipster as having killed and left to waste a trophy bull elk and four buck deer in September, taking only the heads, the OSP news release said. The investigation began after fish and wildlife troopers from the Central Point Area Command received a report of a bull elk with its head removed left to waste off Lake Creek Road, outside Eagle Point. Because of the rate of decomposition, police said they believed the bull had been killed Sept. 6 or Sept. 7, likely at night. During the investigation, police say, they received additional reports that several deer carcasses had been found in the same area with their heads removed.

Police say they recovered the elk antlers and four sets of deer antlers suspected of being from this poaching during their investigation. Burkett was cited on charges of unlawfully taking an elk, two counts of unlawfully taking deer and three counts of wasting wildlife. Cochran was cited with two counts unlawfully taking a deer, waste of wildlife and aiding a wildlife crime. Cochran is currently in the appeals process for a July conviction and five-year hunting license suspension for violating a wildlife law, Jackson County Circuit Court records show.

The Oregon Hunters Association, Humane Society of the United States and The Cascade Ranch had offered more than $15,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest.