SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A total of 1,283 wild animals and fish were illegally poached in 2022, according to the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
DWR officials said 782 fish, 179 deer, 134 elk, 14 cougars, five moose, a mountain goat and a bear. small game animals, waterfowl and a variety of other species are said to make up the remaining illegally killed wildlife. The combined value of wildlife killed in 2022 is reportedly over $600,000.
“Each animal that is killed illegally in our state is one less animal for legal hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and everyday residents to enjoy,” said DWR Captain Chad Bettridge. “Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah’s wildlife.”
The amount of animals illegally killed has been rising in total since 2019. DWR reports 1,065 animals with a combined value of $384,000 were poached unlawfully. The number has steadily increased to 1,153 wild animals valued at more than $610,000 that were killed illegally in 2021. The 2021 valuation nearly doubled in total due to several of the big game animals killed were reportedly classified as “trophy” sized.
The rise in illegal hunting has resulted in a rise in hunting or fishing privileges being suspended throughout Utah. According to the DWR, 66 people had their privileges suspended, a rise from the 54 suspensions given in 2021. Over 4,000 citations were issued in 2022, which reportedly was a slight decrease from 2021 where nearly 4,400 citations were issued.
DWR said not every wildlife violation is committed intentionally and that hunters and fishers should do research before heading out. Hunters should be absolutely sure of their target before taking a shot and should get proper permissions to avoid trespassing.
Bettridge said officers can’t be everywhere at once and asks for the public’s continued support in reporting suspicious wildlife-related activities.
“Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws to maintain healthy populations, and to also keep those recreating outdoors safe.”
Suspicious activity can be reported through the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) hotline at 1-800-662-3337, 24/7. Reports can also be made through the UTDWR Law Enforcement App, online through the DWR website, or by texting officers at 847411.