Hunting license fraud problem for DWR
SALT LAKE CITY – Conservation officers with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources have investigated 95 cases of hunters who fraudulently obtained hunting licenses since 2017.
DWR said this is also a form of poaching because in many cases illegal hunts result in the killing of wildlife.
Most of the fraud is committed by out-of-state hunters who provided false information to get a permit DWR said.
A news release said many of these fraud cases involve a nonresident who increased their odds of getting a once-in-a-lifetime or limited-entry license and were charged the lower permit price that is available for Utahns.
The reverse also happens when Utahns claim to be from out of state so they can earn bonus points for all wildlife species. That increased their odds for a future permit draw. That option is not available to Utah residents.
The news release said the charges for these cases range from a class B misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
“Any license that is obtained through fraud, deceit or misrepresentation is not valid,” DWR Statewide Investigations Capt. Wade Hovinga said. “With each hunting permit drawing, our investigators review the applicants’ data to detect any potential fraud. Our officers have also detected fraud by encountering a hunter in the field and discovering that the individual purchased a Utah hunting license because they have a second home or a cabin in Utah, which doesn’t qualify them as a Utah resident.”
The DWR release included several examples of prosecuted cases.
CASES DWR PROSECUTED
- In 2017, DWR investigators discovered a Utahn had been using their grandfather’s identity to apply for hunting permits and bonus points for two years. The individual was not successful in drawing a permit but had obtained bonus points to increase their chances of obtaining a permit. The individual was charged with a class B misdemeanor and a third-degree felony for identity fraud.
- In 2019, DWR conservation officers discovered a St. George resident had been claiming to be an Arizona resident for eight years to obtain bonus points for all species.
- In 2019, a South Carolina resident illegally purchased a Utah resident hunting license and drew a premium limited-entry buck deer permit for the Henry Mountains, a hunting unit notorious for having large, world-class mule deer. The individual harvested a trophy mule deer buck with the illegally obtained permit. DWR investigators detected the fraud after seeing the out-of-state address associated with the permit, and the individual was charged with a third-degree felony and ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution. The mule deer was seized from a residence in Wisconsin.
- In 2020, a California resident illegally obtained a Utah resident permit and harvested a bighorn sheep in Millard County. The individual had applied for this particular permit as a Utah resident for several years, fraudulently obtaining bonus points until successfully drawing the permit. DWR investigators received a tip about the fraudulent permit, which resulted in the successful prosecution of the individual. The individual was charged with a third-degree felony and ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution. The bighorn sheep was seized from a residence in California.
- In 2021, a Florida resident who had moved to Florida from Utah still applied in the hunt drawing as a Utah resident and illegally obtained a Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep permit. DWR investigators discovered the individual was living in Florida at the time of applying for the permit and contacted the individual prior to the hunt to inform them their permit was invalid because it was obtained through fraud. The individual surrendered their permit and was charged with a class B misdemeanor.
“Our once-in-a-lifetime hunts have a very limited number of permits. When someone lies and obtains one of those permits through fraud, they are robbing someone else of that hunting opportunity,” Hovinga said. “As the name of those hunts implies, many hunters wait their entire lives to have that opportunity, and it is really frustrating to see that limited permit go to someone who obtained it unethically and illegally. It can be difficult to discover fraud cases, and we rely heavily on tips and other information from the public to investigate these incidents.”
There are many ways to report information on fraudulently obtained licenses and other poaching incidents. Your identity would be kept confidential and you could earn a reward.
HOW TO REPORT FRAUD & POACHING
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