SALT LAKE CITY — Utah wildlife officials are asking for the public's help as they investigate a pair of poaching cases in central Utah that occurred over the month.
Both cases were reported in Sevier County during the general spike bull elk hunt, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The first elk was found shot dead near Sheep Valley, northeast of Fish Lake, around Oct. 8. The second elk was found shot dead near Daniels Pass, which is north of Fish Lake Hightop, around Oct. 16.
Punishment for poaching in Utah ranges in severity based on the animal killed. It can lead to a felony charge if any animal is determined to have a value over $500.
A trophy elk, which is determined by points on antlers, also comes with a restitution fine of $8,000, according to state law. It's a $750 fine for elk not determined to be a trophy size. It wasn't immediately clear if either elk found shot dead in Sevier County this month qualified as trophy elk.
The two cases add to a continued problem of poaching cases in the state. State conservation officers said earlier this month they had investigated 258 animals illegally killed in Utah from Aug. 1 through Oct. 4, including 83 trophy animals. They also uncovered over 1,000 violations which led to 857 citations.
Poaching convictions can result in fines, restitution penalties, the suspension or revocation of hunting or fishing privileges within Utah and the 48 other states that comprise the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, or possibly even jail time.
Anyone with information about the Sevier County poaching cases or any other poaching case in the state is encouraged to use the DWR's UTiP Hotline at 800-622-3337 or report it on the division's website.