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Unmarked traps lead to $4,000 fine

Price — Two men will pay a total of $4,000 for breaking Utah's trapping laws.

Dean and Spencer Steele, both of Utah County, were originally charged with more than 20 counts for violating Utah's trapping regulations.

Bobcat
Wildlife officers found a bobcat similar to this one caught in one of the illegally set traps.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In a plea agreement, both men pleaded guilty to five Class B Misdemeanors.

In addition to paying $4,000, the men also forfeited numerous traps and a bobcat pelt. And both of them might also lose their trapping privileges in Utah.

Officers find traps

During January, officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources discovered several leg-hold traps on Cedar Mountain in east-central Utah. None of the traps had trap identification numbers attached to them. (The trap ID number is a four or five digit number that identifies the person who owns the traps.)

The officers also found a bobcat in one of the traps.

When Dean and Spencer Steele returned to collect their traps and the bobcat, officers apprehended them.

During the course of their investigation, the officers learned the men had not checked the traps for 14 days. They also determined that the bobcat had been in the trap for at least eight days.

The officers also learned the two men had a system to try to avoid detection—they would attach ID numbers to the traps as they collected them, in case they were stopped later by officers.

"This is a case where two men put out unmarked traps to avoid complying with the state's 48-hour trap check requirement," says Carl Gramlich, a DWR lieutenant. "They also left the traps unmarked to try to avoid detection if wildlife officers found the traps before they collected them."

Report trap locations to the DWR

If you find a trap in the wild, Gramlich encourages you to report the location to the Division of Wildlife Resources.

"Please do not disturb the trap," he says. "Tampering with someone's trap could lead to criminal charges if the trap was legally set."

After receiving your report, Gramlich says wildlife officers can check the trap to determine if it was legally set.

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