Oregon State Police are investigating the illegal killing of a Rocky Mountain goat in the Elkhorn Mountains earlier this month. A reward of up to $500 is being offered to help speed the investigation.

The goat, a mature nanny, was caught in a head snare that appeared to have been intentionally set for it, said OSP Lt. Randy Scorby. The animal was found dead on a goat trail in the Twin Lakes Basin near an established campsite. OSP and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife learned of the goat's death on Sept. 5, Scorby said.

No meat or other parts were taken from the animal. It was left to rot, he said.

The goat season, for which just two tags are issued annually for the Elkhorn Mountains, started Sept. 9. The season continues through Sept. 24. Snares are never a legal means of taking goats.

Scorby said this is the first illegal mountain goat kill he's seen in his eight year's experience in the Baker City OSP office. It is especially unusual that a snare would be used.

andquot;Snares are usually used for fur bearers and predators,andquot; he said.

The nanny goat apparently caught its neck in the snare and then struggled and strangled itself to death, he said.

A reward of up to $500 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the crimes of taking a mountain goat in a closed season and waste of wildlife. Upon conviction, the Class A misdemeanors each carry maximum fines of $6,250 and a year in the county jail, Scorby said.

Anyone with information is asked to call OSP Trooper Brad Duncan at 541/523-5867 or the andquot;Turn in Poachersandquot; hotline at 800/452-7888. Information may be kept anonymous.

The Oregon Hunters Association sponsors the TIP reward program, which offers rewards for many of the OSP's fish and wildlife cases.

Ryan Torland, an ODFW wildlife biologist in Baker City, said mountain goats are very sensitive to over-harvest. Even taking a few mature nannies can be detrimental to the herd because of the animals' knowledge of migration patterns and food sources, he said. The Elkhorn herd has statewide importance because goats are being trapped and transported to other parts of Oregon to start new populations.

andquot;We want to limit the harvest so as not to negatively affect the herd up there,andquot; Scorby said.

The animals are carefully monitored to ensure that trapping and sport harvest don't have a negative effect on the herd, Scorby said. If too many animals are killed, trapping and transporting efforts as well as hunting could cease, Scorby said.

andquot;It is vital to the continuation of this herd that illegal harvest does not occur,andquot; he said.