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Poachers Kill Protected Elk Famous For Trusting Humans

Animal lovers expressed grief and outrage this weekend after a beloved elk named Hollywood was found illegally shot and killed on an Oklahoma nature preserve.

On Saturday, Hollywood's headless body was discovered on Nickel Wildlife Preserve, where the elk had earned a reputation for his cheerful attitude and calmness around cameras and children.

As protected animals on private land, the preserve's elks should have little reason to fear people, but the scruffy, undersized bull had become particularly famous for his apparent love of the spotlight.

"People with kids could drive through, and it was almost guaranteed they would see him," Preserve Director Jeremy Tubbs told the Tulsa World. "There are no other elk like that on the preserve; they are typically pretty secretive animals."

But while Hollywood's trusting nature explains how poachers were able to kill him, preserve officials are still unable to explain why: According to Tubbs, the elk's killers left almost his entire body, taking only a small amount of meat and his head, which would be of little trophy value.

Officials representing a variety of nature and wildlife organizations are now offering a combined $4,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of Hollywood's killers. But even if the poachers are brought to justice, the elk's many admirers are unlikely to feel very satisfied.

"My photos [of Hollywood] just came up on Facebook, you know, where it brings up memories of 'one year ago today'?" preserve visitor Becky Reeves told the Tulsa World. "It's heartbreaking to think such a tame animal was preyed on like that."

Anyone with information about Hollywood's killing is urged to contact one of the following game wardens with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation: Brady May at 918-431-2552, Tony Clark at 918-431-2562, or Cpt. Joe Adair at 918-431-2543.