Officials report slight decrease in poaching incidents for 2020; citations jump more than 50%

File photo of 'dead heads' found by Utah DWR officials at the residence of Michael Grant, Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Utah DWR, St. George News / Cedar City News

SALT LAKE CITY — The total number of wild animals taken illegally in Utah in 2020 was slightly lower than the number taken in 2019, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers report.

According to a press release from the DWR, a total of 1,056 animals were killed illegally in the state in 2020. In 2019, a total of 1,080 animals were taken.

The total combined value of the wildlife illegally killed in 2020 was more than $379,000. In 2019, the total value was more than $406,500.

While the total number of animals illegally taken dropped a bit in 2020, the total number of citations for unlawful take and wanton destruction actually increased, from 499 citations issued in 2019 to 773 citations in 2020.

The overall number of violations detected by DWR conservation officers last year, including citations for unlawful take and wanton destruction, was 4,760, compared to 3,525 violations in 2019.

This 2019 file photo shows a bighorn sheep ram shot and left to waste by an ATV trail near Mount Carmel Junction, Kane County, Utah, October 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

A total of 35 people had their hunting or fishing privileges suspended in Utah in 2020, compared to 84 in 2019. 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 citizens to enjoy,” DWR Capt. Wyatt Bubak said in the press release. “Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah’s wildlife.”

Residents are encouraged to report suspicious hunting activity by calling the UTiP hotline 1-800-662-3337 (DEER), which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or reporting the activity online on the DWR website.

If you witness a possible violation, and you can’t remember the hotline number, do a quick internet search on your phone or look at your hunting or fishing license; the number is printed on it.

“We need your help,” Bubak said. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity to us. Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws 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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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