Eight deer carcasses — stripped of antlers and skull plates — were dumped alongside the road near a southeastern Minnesota river, and conservation authorities are looking for whoever is responsible, state officials said Thursday.

A Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer was alerted Monday to the whitetail deer carcasses dumped the night before west of Kellogg along County Road 81 near the Zumbro River in Wabasha County, the state agency said.

At least seven of the animals were bucks; all had their antlers or their antlers and skull plates removed, the DNR said.

“The carcasses were not in the water,” said DNR spokesman Joe Albert. “They were just out in the open.”

Albert said the deer appeared to have been dumped there recently, and their antlers and skull plates taken as trophies, but said, “It’s hard to tell how recently they had been killed.”

Dumping deer is an issue right after deer season ends in the fall because some hunters want to avoid getting caught taking more than the state-established limit, but “eight in one spot is not common,” he said.

At a minimum, he said, the offender or offenders would be subject to prosecution for illegal disposal of deer.

Greg Salo, assistant director of the DNR’s enforcement division, said, “At the very least, this is a waste of Minnesota’s precious natural resources. We urge anyone with information related to this ongoing investigation to call the Turn in Poachers hotline.”

The hotline is 1-800-652-9093. All of the deer have been collected and will be tested for disease.