Photo provided by Nevada Department of Wildlife
Trail camera photo of an elk that was subsequently illegally killed in August, 2015, in Lincoln County, Nev.

Special to the Ely Times 

A Utah man was recently sentenced for the felony killing and waste of a bull elk near Pioche, Nevada back in August of 2015. The case generated tremendous public interest and led to an incredibly complex investigation and a strong case against the shooter.

Local District Court Judge Gary Fairman sentenced Zackry Holdaway, 26, of Cedar City, Utah, on April 21st, 2017 to pay more than $20,000 in penalties and was also given a suspended sentence of 32 months in state prison and ordered to serve five years on probation for felony killing and waste of a bull elk near Pioche.

Holdaway loses all hunting and fishing license privileges for six years.

“This kind of punishment is reserved for the most egregious poaching of big game animals. Our investigation took on added gravity when we learned that the suspect had previous wildlife violations in Utah,” said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed. “This case was a blatant theft and waste of Nevada’s resources, and we are grateful to everyone involved for ensuring justice was served.”

The case was a complicated set of circumstances that included these major steps of NDOW discovering the elk in early September at Pearson Ranch in Lincoln County. There was almost no physical evidence remaining because of the advanced decomposition. The head was cut off, with almost the entire carcass left to waste. What Holdaway didn’t know was that a trail camera was set up near the crime scene and it captured several pictures of the crime. A month into the investigation with only weak leades, NDOW issued a press release that included trail camera photos to generate public interest. This worked quite well, as NDOW started to receive information. Meanwhile Holdaway was in New Zealand for a guiding job. For eight months, game wardens waited for Holdaway to return to the United States and in that time, they developed stronger evidence of the crime, finding a photo of Holdaway with an animal that was an exact match to on captured on earlier trail camera footage of the crime scene.

NDOW interviewd Holdaway in the early part of July in 2016, which resulted in a second press release of Holdaway’s arrest. “We can’t divulge all the behind the scenes work that went into this case, but our officers took an incredibly complex puzzle and put the pieces together into a great case,” said Chief Game Warden Tyler Turnipseed.”

I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done to protect Nevada’s prized big game animals. The reaction from the public and sportsmen has been overwhelmingly supportive. People are very offended by this type of crime and they want their wildlife protected.” Hunters sometimes wait many years and spend hundred, or even thousands of dollars to legally hunt elk in the region Holdaway committed his crime.