SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Someone cut the head off a deer today, after it laid along the side of the freeway for days. Now, some are left wondering if that would be considered poaching or even legal.
“If he were to hit the animal with his car and then take it, then that’s poaching,” says Scott Hunter with Hunter’s Taxidermy.
And, we may never know if poaching was in fact what happened in this case. But, someone took it upon themselves to cut the head off a 5-point buck sometime Saturday after the carcass laid near I-215 and the Foothill Blvd exit for days. A viewer said he noticed the head was removed sometime between 11 a.m. and 1:50 p.m. on Saturday. He said before when the buck had it’s head it was facing north but when he drove by again later in the day it’s head was gone and it’s body was facing south.
Another viewer who called said he had witnessed the car accident early Thursday morning around 7:00 a.m. He said he saw the car pull off to the side.
ABC4 News reached out to the Division of Wildlife Resources and the Utah Highway Patrol to get some answers as to whether this activity was illegal and what type of charges a person could face, but neither agency returned our calls.
We reached out to a local taxidermist who shared his opinion on what type of crime may have occurred here.
“It’s illegal possession of a big game animal,” says Hunter.
Scott Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Taxidermy says a person would need to get special permission from the DWR to take any part of an animal, even if it’s road kill.
“If you take it, because the law states that you’re suppose to either call highway patrol or a DWR agent to come out and give you legal possession of the animal, they’ll actually write you a ticket and give you legal possession of the animal,” adds Hunter.
Illegal possession of an animal can land a person in big trouble. Charges can range anywhere between a 2-year stay in jail or a $2,000 fine.
A DWR agent did return our calls late this evening and re-affirmed what Hunter said. It is illegal to possess any part of an animal without the DWR’s permission. In this case, with it being roadkill, the DWR says they never would have given anyone permission to take any part of this buck.
Several viewers also called about what to do when they see a dead animal on the side of the road and who they should call. That all depends on where the animal is, but the Utah Department of Transportation is responsible for all clean up along state routes. UDOT spokesperson, John Gleason, told ABC4 News they have a mobile app called “Click and Fix” which residents can download. There people can report a clean up situation by pinpointing the exact location. That pin will notify UDOT and they will have a crew out there immediately.
We reached out to UDOT about the dead carcass – who had no knowledge the carcass was there. As soon as they were made aware of its whereabouts they had a crew there to clean it up within the hour.