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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — So far in 2016, 250 mule deer have been illegally killed in Utah, and Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers are asking for the public’s help in regards to three recent poaching cases.
DWR reported that the majority of the poached deer have been bucks and the antlers on 10 of the 250 poached deer were big enough to place each in a trophy category. The poached deer will cost Utah citizens approximately $176,000 in monetary value, officials with the DWR said.
“If you care about the state’s wildlife, please understand that poachers took those animals away from you. Most hunters, and those who enjoy watching wildlife, would have been thrilled to have taken or seen any of these bucks,” DWR Captain Mitch Lane said in a news release.
Lane said deer are often a bigger target for poaching during the winter months because they congregate on ranges at lower elevations. As large groups of deer bunch together in search of food, they provide an enticing target for poachers.
DWR officials are asking for information in connection to three recent poaching cases throughout Utah:
The first poaching incident was reported on Nov. 6 at Cave Peak, a mountain south of Mueller Park in Davis County, DWR said. A concerned citizen emailed DWR conservation officers after discovering a cow moose that appeared to have been poached. During the investigation, conservation officers discovered the moose had been shot in the chest with an arrow, that was still lodged inside the animal.
The officers said it appeared the moose had been dead for several weeks. After further investigation, the animal is not believed to have been a lost wounded animal that a hunter shot legally. There are currently no suspects in connection with the illegal killing and DWR is asking for information.
The second poaching incident occurred just before dark on Nov. 20 near Moroni, according to DWR. A citizen contacted DWR and reported witnessing a 4x4 buck deer being shot and left in the area. The witness said they approached the two suspects, who were still at the deer carcass. However, when the suspects saw the witness, they fled the scene in a side-by-side, driving toward Blue Hills Road, DWR said.
The witness described the side-by-side as multi-colored, possibly blue and white, with an 18-24 inch light bar above the driver’s side. Investigators believe the suspects are from the Moroni or north Sanpete area.
Investigators later determined the deer had been shot in a field before it died on the road between Pea Valley and Blue Hills Road. The animal was shot multiple times, and based on the number of wounds, investigators believe the suspects knew they had killed the deer before they fled the area.
The third poaching case occurred on the Bandanna Ranch development in western Duchesne County, DWR said. A citizen called conservation officers to report a headless buck deer that was discovered in the area. Investigators discovered that the animal had been field dressed, skinned and the head had been removed with a saw. It appeared that the animal had been brought to the location and then been dumped, leaving all the meat to waste.
Conservation officers believe the buck deer was likely left in the area in late October or early November.
Anyone with information about these or other poaching incidents can call the UTIP hotline at 1-800-662-3337 or email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rewards are often available for information leading to the successful prosecution of wildlife crimes, and tipsters can remain anonymous.