Three Utah Hunters Face Felony Charges
Two poaching cases in northern Utah are a sad reminder that poaching is a wasteful activity that reduces opportunities for ethical hunters. Witnesses provide valuable information.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources photo
And, if you're the person who commits the violation, poaching can empty your bank account and put you behind bars.
- On Sept. 17, a father and his son recklessly fired their rifles at a herd of 60 pronghorn antelope on the Woodruff Wildlife Management Area in Rich County. After the shooting was over, five pronghorn—three bucks and two does—were dead.
Each man had a permit to take a doe. But neither man had a permit to take a buck.
- On Sept. 10, a hunter shot three mountain goats near Ben Lomond Peak.
His permit allowed him to take only one goat.
Fortunately, sportsmen were in both areas and knew what occurred. They gave Division of Wildlife Resources officers additional details about the incidents that the poachers were not willing to give the investigators initially.
The details the sportsmen gave were essential in determining how severe the charges filed against the violators should be.
Phil Douglass, a regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, says both cases are examples of concerned sportsmen who reported what they saw and were willing to testify. "Both incidents took place in very remote areas," Douglass says. "One suspect expressed amazement to officers that other hunters had witnessed [what he did] and reported his wasteful actions."
Fines, and no more hunting
Douglass says Utahns highly value their wildlife and the opportunities they have to see and ethically pursue game animals responsibly and legally. "Public laws enacted through the Utah Legislature reflect those values," Douglass says.
All three violators are facing potential third degree felony charges. Third degree felonies carry a fine of up to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to five years.
The violators also face restitution fines of $6,000 per mountain goat and $400 per pronghorn. And they might lose their hunting privileges in Utah and the other states involved in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
By Nov. 1, a total of 37 states will be part of the compact.
How to report wildlife crimes
"We need your help to protect your wildlife," says DWR Captain Rick Olson.
With many of Utah's hunting seasons in full swing, Olson says it's vital that you report any suspicious activity you see. You can report this activity one of three ways:
Witnessing a violation
- If you see a wildlife violation occur, calling Utah's Turn in a Poacher hotline is the best way to get an officer to the scene.
The hotline—1-800-662-3337—is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you can't remember the UTiP number, pull out your Utah hunting or fishing license or permit. The number is written on the license or permit.
Olson says when you call 1-800-662-3337, the person who takes your call will patch you through to the DWR officer nearest to where the incident is occurring.
DWR officers also have computers in their vehicles. As soon as a call is received, information from the caller appears on the computer screens of every DWR officer in the state.
- If you can't remember the UTiP number, and you don't have your license or permit with you because you're not hunting or fishing, call the nearest police dispatch center.
The center will send a DWR officer or another law enforcement officer to the scene.
- If you find something suspicious—for example, a big game animal that's missing its head—or if you have any other information you want to share about a possible wildlife violation, you can report it two ways:
Olson says if you send information through the Web page or the email address, officers won't receive the information immediately. "If you need to get in touch with us right away," he says, "call 1-800-662-3337."