Centre County trio charged in elk poaching

The Pennsylvania Game Commission has charged three Centre County men with illegally shooting three bull elk in Clearfield County.

Frank Buchanan Jr., 25, and Jeffrey Bickel, 46, both of Bellefonte; and Cody Lyons, 20, of Milesburg, are accused of killing an elk that, had it been legally harvested, would have ranked as the state’s third-largest bull elk ever recorded, according to a Game Commission news release.

Each man faces thousands of dollars in fines if convicted, the commission said.

The maximum potential fine for each man could exceed $13,000. In addition, the Game Commission will seek $11,500 in replacement costs for the elk.

Buchanan is accused of all three shootings, the commission said.

The first elk was discovered Sept. 9 by a nearby resident, the commission said.

The antlers had been removed, but the rest of the animal had been left behind.

A 7 mm bullet was pulled from the animal’s shoulder, according to the release.

Conservation Officer Mark Gritzer returned to the area Sept. 15 when he saw a pickup truck spotlighting elk. Within an hour, he heard gunshots, the release said.

When he arrived on the scene, he discovered a rifle of the same caliber that had been used to kill the elk on Sept. 9, the commission said.

He also found a handsaw “caked with elk hair and tissue” in the pickup.

Buchanan admitted to shooting the elk, the commission said, and the three suspects were taken to Woodland state police barracks.

Buchanan later took officers to a trailer home in Milesburg where they retrieved the antlers of the animal killed Sept. 9.

The other two elk were discovered Sept. 16, at the scene where the men were arrested, according to the release.

Elk season in Pennsylvania is Nov. 3-8, and the extended season is Nov. 10-15.

Buchanan, Bickel and Lyons face a preliminary hearing Oct. 29 in Clearfield County.