DWR offers tips on when to report wildlife encounters or sightings

Nov 28, 2023, 3:51 PM

In the winter, moose can end up anywhere, including your back yard. DWR biologists shot this moose ...

In the winter, moose can end up anywhere, including your back yard. DWR biologists shot this moose with a tranquilizer dart. It’ll be asleep soon. (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says there are times when wildlife encounters or sightings should be reported. And there are also times when such occurrences don’t need to be told about.

Some of the occurrences where sightings don’t need to be reported are during the summer months when people are hiking or camping in the mountains.

Wildlife moving down

However, as winter settles in and snow begins to fall, the DWR says big game animals such as deer and moose will move down to lower elevations in search of food. And when those animals head into the valley, others such as mountain lions are likely to follow. Mountain lions tend to prey mostly on deer, according to the DWR.

If by chance you notice wildlife in your yard or neighborhood, you should keep your distance, according to the DWR.

“Getting too close to a wild animal can cause the animal to feel threatened,” said DWR Capt. Chad Bettridge in a news release. “If it feels threatened, it will sometimes act aggressively to protect itself. Plus, because it’s harder for some wildlife to find food in the winter, they need to conserve their energy in order to survive. While a one-off encounter may not be fatal, repeatedly disturbing or chasing species such as moose and deer cause them to use up some of the essential fat reserves and energy they need to survive the winter.”

The DWR provides a breakdown of situations where wildlife encounters or sightings should be reported.

Mountain lions

Mountain lions can usually be found in the foothills and canyon areas of Utah. However, they can follow prey down into valleys during the winter months. The DWR says a mountain lion sighting should be reported under the following scenarios:

  • It has killed something in a yard or neighborhood.
  • It is showing aggressive behavior.
  • It appears on multiple times on a security camera.

A mountain lion seen only once on security footage is typically moving through the area.


Black bears are the only species of bear currently found in the state. Much like mountain lions, bears can be seen in the foothills and canyons around the state.

The DWR says if bears are in these areas, they should be reported if:

  • Being aggressive.
  • Getting into trash and causing damage.

To find out ways to avoid drawing bears to your yard, click here.


If a moose has wandered into areas that are heavily-populated, the DWR says that animal should be reported so it can be relocated. If a moose is in a populated area for too long, it can possibly cause damage to property and harm to humans.


A deer sighting should only be reported if it is acting aggressively, according to the DWR. Buck deer can typically be aggressive during November’s breeding season. If a deer is hit and killed by a vehicle, you are asked to call the a DWR near you to have it removed.

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DWR offers tips on when to report wildlife encounters or sightings