More Than 1,000 Animals And Fish Killed Illegally Last Year, DWR Says
Jan 7, 2020, 4:47 PM | Updated: 10:15 pm
Every day, dozens of wildlife officers fan out across our state to try to track down poachers. Illegal killing of animals is a widespread crime in Utah. New numbers from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources illustrate a crime against all of us that is not going away.
Last year, hunters and anglers illegally killed more than 1000 animals and fish in Utah. That’s nearly three each day.
“It’s impossible to go get an elk to tell you who did what. The witnesses are difficult to come by,” said Sgt, Chad Bettridge with the DWR.
That’s why poaching cases are so difficult to solve. Bettridge trains officers to track down poachers, after he spent 18 years in the field doing that investigative work himself.
“Most all of our cases wouldn’t be solved if it wasn’t for the public’s help,” he said.
Last year, Utah conservation officers confirmed the illegal killing of 1,050 animals and fish at an estimated value of more than $386,000. That includes approximately 150 deer, 95 elk, 15 antelope, six bison, and five moose.
That’s only a slight increase from last year. But, Sgt. Chad Bettridge with the DWR tells me it’s a persistent problem that robs the beauty of wildlife from all of us: legal hunters, hikers, photographers.
Some people are collecting their trophies legally, others are not. Bettridge tells me DWR research shows that 95% of the people who go out and hunt and fish in Utah do it legally.
What’s the harm in poaching?
“If you look at these animals that we have here on the ground, each one of these were killed illegally,” said Bettridge looking at an array of illegally taken elk and deer antlers. “Thus, nobody else gets to go out and interact with these animals, whether it’s to go hunt them, or even to look at them, or to experience an elk bugling during the rut.”
It’s a crime against everyone who enjoys wildlife in our state.
The DWR is still looking for tips in multiple cases.
On October 20th in Kane County, a big horn sheep ram was killed and left to waste near Mount Carmel Junction. Whoever shot the ram was on the main Barracks ATV trail near marker 12.8.
“An individual just saw the ram and decided to shoot it, and left the entire animal there to waste,” said Bettridge.
In Millard County, conservation officers are trying to find the person who killed a deer. It was killed and left in November, east of Holden, in the Maple Hollow area.
“This was a large deer, a 6 x 7 buck,” said Bettridge. “It was probably 30 inches or wider.”
Bettridge said, sometimes hunters make mistakes and kill the wrong animal. If they call the DWR and report what happened, officers will take that into account. But, covering up an illegal kill is a crime.
“The people who have taken these things illegally have stolen that opportunity from the rest of the people in the state.”
Help Stop Poaching: 1-800-662-3337