Elk NetworkPoaching Incidents Increase in Utah

General | January 13, 2022

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supports legal, ethical hunting and encourages hunters to report any suspicious activity they may witness to law enforcement.

The total number of wild animals harvested illegally in Utah in 2021 was higher than the number taken in 2020, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers report.

A total of 1,153 animals were illegally killed in 2021. The total combined value of the wildlife illegally killed was approximately $610,000. Some of the animals illegally killed last year include 180 deer (including 34 “trophy” buck deer), 113 elk (including 18 “trophy” bull elk), five moose, one bighorn sheep, 11 bears, 17 cougars and 374 fish. The remaining illegally killed wildlife include a variety of small game animals, waterfowl and a variety of other wildlife species.

In 2020, a total of 1,079 animals were killed illegally in the state, with a total value of over $387,000. In 2019, a total of 1,065 animals were taken unlawfully, at a total value of more than $384,000.

A total of 4,394 citations were issued in 2021, a slight decrease from the 4,762 citations issued in 2020. Last year, individuals were most often cited for hunting or fishing without the proper license or permit.

A total of 48 people had their hunting or fishing privileges suspended in Utah last year, compared to 35 in 2020. In 2019, 84 hunting or fishing privileges were suspended. Utah is a member state of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. License suspensions in Utah are recognized in all the other states in the U.S., except Hawaii.

“Each animal that is illegally killed in our state is one less animal for legal hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and everyday residents to enjoy,” DWR Capt. Chad Bettridge said. “Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah’s wildlife.”

Here are the various ways you can report illegal or suspicious wildlife activities:

  • Call the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline at 800-662-3337. (The UTiP hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the quickest way to report a wildlife violation. The number is printed on your hunting and fishing licenses.)
  • Use the UTDWR Law Enforcement app.
  • Text officers at 847411.
  • Report online through the DWR website.

The text line was implemented in 2021, and 484 tips were submitted through it last year, many of which resulted in successful investigations and prosecutions of wildlife-related crimes.

“Our officers can’t be everywhere at once, so we need your help,” Bettridge said. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report any suspicious wildlife-related activity to us. Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws to maintain healthy populations, and also keep those recreating outdoors safe.”

Not all wildlife violations are committed intentionally. To learn about common illegal hunting mistakes, visit the DWR website.

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)