SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – As hunting season is in full swing, it’s more important than ever to be aware of hunting laws and avoid illegal poaching.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is asking the public to help fight against poaching. Poaching negatively affects conservation efforts and the biodiversity of the surrounding habitat.
From August 1 to September 23, DWR officials issued 393 citations, detected 504 violations, and discovered 92 illegally killed animals including big game species. Officials say they have contacted 13,350 individuals and inspected the licenses of 5,116 people during this period.
“Hunters need to take the responsibility of knowing the law, having a current hunting or combination license, and knowing what species and areas their permits allow them to hunt,” said DWR Capt. Wyatt Bubak.
Conservation officers say receiving tips through hotlines has helped tremendously when investigating poaching incidents. Officials say wildlife violations can happen anytime throughout the year, but the fall hunting season typically sees a spike.
If you’d like to help in the fight against poaching, here are some easy, effective ways when spotting a potential violator:
Take note of the violator’s license number
This is the most critical piece of information you can provide to conservation officers. If you can’t see the license, any information regarding the vehicle or suspects is still helpful.
“Other helpful details include the type and color of the vehicle the person was driving, how many people were involved, and a description of what you saw,” says Bubak. “And, if you can give us a GPS coordinate, that can guide us quickly to the area where the possible violation occurred.”
Don’t confront the individual
There’s no need to physically or verbally confront the violator.
“We don’t want anyone to be put in harm’s way or to be in a situation that makes them uncomfortable,” says Bubak. “Report what you saw, and let us contact them.”
Report the information to the DWR using a tip channel
Call the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) hotline at 1-800-662-3337. This is the quickest way to report a wildlife violation, with a staffed hotline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline number can also be found on your hunting and fishing licenses.
You can report a violation through the UTDWR Law Enforcement App, which was launched back in March. Conservation officers have received hundreds of tips from this method.
You can also text officers at “847411” with any tips and report anything online through the DWR website.
If you can’t find the UTiP hotline number, you can also contact the nearest local police dispatch at 911, but officials say this method should only be used only if you’re absolutely sure you have witnessed a poaching violation or you feel the incident must be reported immediately.
While reporting a wildlife violation in a Facebook message to DWR is fine too, it’ll be the slowest way to report an incident that may require attention.
“We need your help,” says Bubak. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity to us. Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws, which help with wildlife conservation and maintaining healthy populations, and also keep our recreating public safe.”