Wednesday, 31 October 2012 00:00
Poachers should think twice before pulling the trigger on a mule deer in Utah.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation Officer Chris Schulze shows exactly what wildlife officers and volunteers are trying to stop this winter: the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah. The carcass of a buck deer was found north of Toquerville on November 11.
"It was a complete waste," says Officer Schulze. "The citizens of Utah should be outraged when this occurs. They killed the deer, dragged it to a wash to conceal it, cut the antlers off and left."
This winter, DWR's conservation officers and members of sportsmen's groups will once again be intensely focused upon protecting Utah's vulnerable deer herds on the state's winter range.
Saturation and night patrols of winter range will be conducted via land and air. Officers are asking the public to serve as additional eyes and ears while they're afield as well. Suspicious activities should be reported immediately.
"DWR conservation officers won't tolerate deer poaching in Utah," says Mike Fowlks, chief of DWR's law enforcement section. "We're pulling out all the stops and using all the means we have to protect Utah's deer herds."
Poaching activity peaks during the wintertime in Utah. This is when mule deer are concentrated on the lower elevation ranges and the bucks are less wary because the breeding season is either underway or concluding, making them easy prey.
Fowlks says poachers usually target the biggest bucks they can find, stealing opportunities for legal hunters as well as non-consumptive users. It can also adversely affect permit numbers in subsequent years.
Chief Fowlks explains, "In November and December, the deer are bunched together on lower elevation areas where it's easier to get an accurate count," he says. "But if poachers kill bucks after the biologists have counted them, the data that's used to set permit numbers in the spring won't be correct; it will show more bucks than there actually are. And that can lead to too many hunting permits being issued, further aggravating the situation."
Patrols are underway across Utah and will continue through the winter.
The public can get involved as well. As you travel through Utah this winter, Fowlks encourages you to be observant. "You don't have to be a conservation officer to make a difference," says Fowlks. "If you see or hear something suspicious, let us know as soon as possible."
Utah's Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline is the best way to contact a DWR officer. The UTiP number is 1-800-662-3337. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.