SALT LAKE CITY — Utah wildlife conservation officers are once again making a plea for people to report poaching incidents after an uptick in violations over the past two months.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials said Tuesday they’ve discovered 258 illegally killed animals from Aug. 1 to Sunday, including 83 big game animals. The animals killed include deer, elk, pronghorn, fish, moose and bighorn sheep.
Conservation officers have also discovered 1,147 violations during that span that have resulted in 857 citations to date. In all, more than 20,000 people were contacted about cases and a little less than 10,000 hunting licenses were inspected.
Wildlife violations can range in severity depending on the rule violated or the species of an animal killed. For example, one of two illegally killed buck deer in Magna last month was considered a trophy animal, which meant the killing could be prosecuted as a felony.
Those convicted of wildlife violations may face fines, lose hunting privileges and could face jail time.
“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 Lt. Chad Bettridge said, in a statement.
The division has a tip line for people to report poaching cases: 1-800-662-3337. Officials say they’ve received more than 400 calls from that line between Aug. 1 and Oct. 4. They added that the fall hunting season is usually when they experience an increase in poaching cases.
Bettridge recommends that anyone who sees anything suspicious in the outdoors should not confront a possible violator. Instead, he recommends that they observe and get as many details as possible. That includes getting a license plate number of a vehicle they might be driving.
In addition to the poaching hotline, Bettridge said people can report incidents to local police through 911 or a nonemergency dispatch number, but it’s recommended only to contact police if they are completely sure they witnessed a poaching violation. Incidents can also be reported online via the DWR’s website.