Steve Russell: Cherokee citizens upset with death of beloved elk

Hollywood, a beloved bull elk, was found dead in the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve in Oklahoma. The Nature Conservancy is offering a $4,000 reward for information about the crime. Photo by Kristy Reeves Photography via Facebook

Steve Russell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is following the controversy over the illegal poaching of an elk in Oklahoma known to many as Hollywood:
The Cherokee Nation is having a Cecil the Lion moment, and the outrage in Tahlequah is palpable. The victim went by the name Hollywood, a moniker the eight-year-old bull elk acquired because he did not fear human beings and seemed to love having his picture taken.

Hollywood’s stomping grounds were at the J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve, located near the Cherokee Nation capital in Tahlequah. The Wildlife Preserve is operated by the Nature Conservancy and is home to a herd of elk reintroduced to the Ozarks in 2005 after being extinguished by overhunting and habitat destruction more than 150 years ago.

Preserve Director Jeremy Tubbs told the Tulsa World that Hollywood “was always there, and we could direct people over there. People with kids could drive through, and it was almost guaranteed they would see him.… There are no other elk like that on the preserve; they are typically pretty secretive animals.”

Many of the Facebook comments by Cherokees are not fit for a family publication, but some of the less indecent language compared killing a tame elk in a nature preserve to spearing a goldfish in a bowl. Several Cherokees suggested staking out taxidermist studios, since Hollywood was a trophy kill. The perpetrator took his head and a very small amount of meat from a very large elk.

Get the Story:
Steve Russell: Elk Killed for Thrills in Tahlequah; Perpetrators Sought (Indian Country Today 1/19)

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