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Utah's conservation officers work to protect our wildlife heritage on behalf of ethical sportsmen and others who value wildlife. These dispatches represent a fraction of the ongoing efforts to protect your wildlife resources.

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Davis County man convicted of illegally releasing live fish

On March 25, 2012, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers received an anonymous tip regarding an unidentified man who was routinely catching quantities of trout from the Weber River near Mountain Green and transplanting them to an unknown water near his residence. Officers were given the suspect's license plate number and vehicle description.

DWR Sergeant Keith Fullenkamp immediately responded to the Weber River and observed the suspect vehicle leaving the area. Sergeant Fullenkamp contacted the vehicle's occupants and found that Matthew Pilling was transporting a single live brown trout in a five gallon bucket. It was determined that Pilling lived in Davis County, and he had a stream in his backyard. However, Pilling denied having previously releasing any live fish into any state waters when initially questioned.

A subsequent investigation identified an eye witness who had actually observed Pilling releasing trout into the stream behind his residence. Pilling eventually admitted to releasing trout into Holmes Creek on 4 to 5 different occasions during the spring of 2012.

Pilling was charged in the Second District Court in Farmington with one count of unlawful transportation of live protected aquatic wildlife a class B misdemeanor and one count of unlawful release of live aquatic wildlife a class A misdemeanor. Pilling pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unlawful release of aquatic wildlife a class B misdemeanor. The unlawful transportation of live aquatic wildlife was dismissed.

On January 14, 2013 Pilling was sentenced to a $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail. $1,650 in fines and all jail time was suspended under the condition that Pilling commit no future wildlife violations while on probation for one year. Pilling also faces up to a three year fishing privilege suspension to be determined in an administrative hearing.

Illegal stocking is devastating to Utah fisheries and undermines the management efforts of Division of Wildlife Resources fisheries biologists. Utah has confirmed more than 50 illegal introductions in recent years. Illegal stocking hurts anglers in many ways by changing species composition, affecting delicate predator/prey balances, and increases the potential for spreading detrimental biological threats such as whirling diseases and quagga mussels.

Please help protect Utah's fisheries by reporting any suspected illegal fish stocking or suspected poaching to the UTiP hotline at 1-800-662-3337. Rewards are offered and persons can remain anonymous.

  • Sargeant Keith Fullenkamp
  • Additional contact:
    Lieutenant Scott Davis

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