Big game animals

To give a little background, rule R657-41-2(1)(k)(vi) states that the "Central Mountain/Nebo/Wasatch West sheep unit is open to the Sportsmen permit holder on even number years and open to the Statewide Conservation permit holder on odd number years." Because this is an even year, the statewide conservation permit holder was not permitted to hunt bighorn sheep on the Nebo unit. However, the statewide conservation permit (governor's tag) holder did harvest a bighorn ram on the Nebo unit.

Shortly before the harvest, a photo with scenery that looked like the Nebo unit was posted to social media. Within minutes, the DWR reached out to the outfitter in an attempt to prevent the harvest, but the ram had already been killed. At that point, the case was turned over to law enforcement. This is a sensitive issue with an associated investigation, which is why we have not been able to comment on it publicly until now.

Because the aforementioned rule affects only two people per year, we have historically opted to not include it in the guidebook. Instead, we send letters to both hunters, explaining the rule. Unfortunately, because of a personnel change this year, we cannot find proof that we sent an explanatory letter to the statewide conservation permit holder.

To further complicate the issue, the outfitter who was planning to guide the statewide conservation permit holder asked a Division employee if the Nebo was a legal unit for the client to hunt. That employee does not work in the region that oversees the Nebo unit and was unaware of the rule that requires the two hunters to alternate hunting years. Consequently, the employee told the outfitter that he believed it was legal.

The findings above came to light during a recent law enforcement investigation that was turned over to the county prosecutor. Because the Division did not accurately communicate the rule, the county prosecutor declined to prosecute the case.

We regret this situation and have taken a hard look at how we distribute information to hunters and to our own employees. We are working to ensure this type of incident does not happen again in the future. Hopefully, this clears up some rumors and misinformation out there.