DWR officers are seeing an increase in wildlife crimes

Utah Division of Wildlife Resource officials are seeking information about big game being killed and left to waste.

OGDEN — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers are seeking the public’s help in solving crimes against big game in Northern Utah. The most recent two incidents are part of a growing number of big game killed illegally in 2021.

There were 113 elk illegally killed in 2021 in Utah DWR said some for their antlers.

In both cases the carcasses were left to spoil. The head of a deer and the skull cap and antlers taken from the elk in both cases the meat from the animals was left behind.

A bull elk was located at a pull-off on the Wasatch exit on the east side of Highway 167 (Trapper’s Loop Road) about a mile north of the Trapper’s Pointe Subdivision. An individual reported seeing a man pull pieces of a quartered elk carcass out of the bed of a white GMC pickup truck on Nov. 1, then he threw the meat on the ground and left it.

The male suspect took the trophy parts then dumped the head with the rest of the meat on the side of the road. Investigators discovered the four quartered pieces of the elk carcass still had all the meat intact. There was no indication that the person attempted to utilize any of the meat.

Officers believe the elk may have been harvested during the general season then dumped later.

Then DWR conservation officers are also investigating the reports of a deer found on Nov. 26. The buck deer had been dumped along I-80 near Evanston, Wyoming. The deer was found on private property and it appeared the individuals tried to cover it up by using a sheet of metal to conceal the deer.

The deer had been shot and only the head had been removed and again the rest of the meat had been left to waste.

Conservation officer Captain Chad Bettridge said for the most part people who harvest animals and then mount them, specifically trophy deer or elk, will keep the mounts for many years.

While I’m sure there have been cases where illegally killed deer have been sold as mounts, it doesn’t seem to be the sole purpose for illegally taking big game,” he said. “Mounts can be sold at certain times of year, according the The Big Game guidebook.”

The handbook states antlers, heads and horns of legally taken big game may be bought or sold from Feb. 1 through July 31.

“Each animal that is illegally killed in our state is one less animal for legal hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and everyday residents to enjoy,” Bettridge said. “Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah’s wildlife.”

The total number of wild animals harvested illegally in Utah in 2021 was higher than the number taken in 2020, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers report.

A total of 1,153 animals were illegally killed in 2021 up from the 1,079 animals killed in 2020. The combined value of the wildlife illegally killed was in 2021 was approximately $610,000. Some of the animals illegally killed last year include 180 deer (including 34“ trophy buck deer), 113 elk (including 18” trophy” bull elk), five moose, one bighorn sheep, 11 bears, 17 cougars and 374 fish. The remaining illegally killed wildlife include a variety of small game animals, waterfowl and a variety of other wildlife species.

DWR issued 4,394 citations in 2021, a decrease from the 4,762 citations issued in 2020. Most of those individuals were most often cited for hunting or fishing without the proper license or permit.

A total of 48 people had their hunting or fishing privileges taken away in Utah last year, compared to 35 in 2020. In 2019, 84 hunting or fishing privileges were suspended. License suspensions in Utah are recognized in all the other states in the U.S., except Hawaii.

DWR Conservation Officer Jonathan Moser said wasting of wildlife is a serious crime. Leaving a big game carcass in the wild can result in charges of wanton destruction of protected wildlife. Those leaving meat to waste can be charges with a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

“Many people hunt specifically to use the meat to feed their family,” he said. “When one person completely wastes the meat and just wants a ‘trophy’ from the animal, it can undermine public support for hunting as a wholesome recreational activity and important wildlife management tool.”

Anyone with information regarding the killing of this elk, or any other wildlife-related crimes in Utah, is encouraged to report it to DWR conservation officers in one of the following ways:

  • By calling the UTiP Hotline at 800-662-3337
  • The UTDWR Law Enforcement app
  • By texting 847411
  • Online through the DWR website

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