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Wildlife officials ask for public’s help, say more than 100 big game animals poached in Utah since August

Posted at 11:31 AM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 13:31:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 100 big game animals were killed illegally and officers have issued hundreds of wildlife citations in the last two months across Utah.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said from August 1 to October 13, officers contacted 35,619 people and inspected 11,425 hunting licenses.

Those interactions turned up 1,215 violations and 102 illegally killed big game animals—including moose, bison, black bear, deer, elk and pronghorns.

So far 918 citations have been issued.

“Hunters need to take the responsibility of knowing the law, having a current hunting or combination license and knowing what species and areas their permits allow them to hunt,” DWR Capt. J Shirley said.

Wildlife officers need your help to catch poachers in Utah. Photo courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Utah’s Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline (1-800-662-3337) received 238 calls in that same timeframe. The agency states those tips helped officers track down violations.

“We need your help,” Shirley said. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity to us. Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws and keep our recreating public safe.”

The agency states wildlife violations generally spike in the fall during hunting seasons.

Tipsters who see a violation should remember whatever details they can, but the key is a license plate number.

“Having a license plate number will lead us to the individual so we can interview the person and start investigating,” Shirley said. “Other helpful details include the type and color of the vehicle the person was driving, how many people were involved and a description of what you saw… And, if you can give us a GPS coordinate, that can guide us quickly to the area where the possible violation occurred.”

And while officials want your help, they do not want you to confront a suspected poacher.

“We don’t want anyone to be put in harm’s way or to be in a situation that makes them uncomfortable,” Shirley said. “Report what you saw, and let us contact them.”

Tipsters can call the UTiP at 1-800-662-3337. That number is staffed 24/7, and wildlife officers said it’s better to wait and contact them than tie up police resources by calling dispatch or 911.

“If you have a license plate number but you can’t get cell reception, it’s totally fine to wait and report the incident when you get home,” Shirley said. “A license plate number will lead us directly to the suspect.

For more information about hunting rules or how to get a hunting license in Utah, visit the DWR’s website.