DWR Officers Focus On Stopping Poaching This Winter
The conservation officers at the Division of Wildlife Resources have one goal this winter: protect Utah’s mule deer from poachers.
So far in 2016, Utah wildlife officers documented 250 illegally killed mule deer. Many of the deer were bucks, and the antlers on some were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.
“Deer are a species of wildlife in the State of Utah that are very important to a lot of folks. Not only to hunters, but folks that enjoy watching wildlife,” said Mark Hadley, spokesperson for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “We’ve seen a little bit of an uptick in the number of poaching cases that have been reported to us.”
The officers are focusing their law enforcement efforts in areas where deer gather together in the winter. Large groups of deer bunched together provide poachers with an enticing target.
“Deer are more vulnerable in the wintertime,” Hadley said. “Because they’re at lower elevations and because they’re bunched up together, they’re easily seen by folks. People who want to do something illegal, it’s very enticing to those folks.”
The total cost of the poached deer reaches over $175,000. Conservation officers will patrol winter ranges across Utah until the deer shed their antlers this spring. The division has a Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline that residents can call to report suspicious activity. The number is 1-800-662-DEER (1-800-662-3337).
“That’s one of the biggest tools to fighting poaching is to be able to get the word out as to how people can help,” Hadley said. “And to make those who might be thinking about doing something like this aware that officers are watching and people are out there watching.”