Poachers target hunting season for opportunity

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CEDAR CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Poaching. The word, alone, gets people fired up.

“They’ve got no place in hunting, we are way more interested in conservation, and these guys are just scum,” Steve Mitchley, a hunter, said.

Hunting season is underway, and while many believe this is the time of year in which poaching cases decrease, the opposite occurs. Poaching amps up as hunters head to the hills, and wildlife crimes can sometimes increase.

“We get people who will launder tags, they won’t shoot the animal they have a tag for, they will shoot other people’s animals–it’s an easy way to be out in the hills and no one would assume you are poaching because there’s a hunt going on,” Conservation Officer Joshua Carver of the Division of Wildlife Resources said.

Iron County currently has open poaching cases, and when people illegally hunt it damages the herd and it’s a blatant attack on paying outdoor enthusiasts. Thinning out the wildlife numbers can often result in fewer tags the following season.

“It can hurt populations numbers, and it takes opportunity away from other hunters, and it’s really theft. They are stealing the public’s opportunity,” Conservation Officer Joshua Carver of the Division of Wildlife Resources said.

It also costs a pretty penny. If caught poaching a prize buck, you could face up to an $8,000 fine, as well as restitution and possible felony charges. Conservation officers are out in full force patrolling for offenders but also see an increase in other illegal activity when hunting season arrives.

“This is the time of year where we have violations, shooting from the roadway, shooting within 600 feet of a home, trespass issues and that kind of stuff,” Officer Carver told ABC4 News.

The Division of Wildlife also says that the public is instrumental in reporting and catching poachers. If you know someone is hunting without the proper tag, you can easily report it. If you’re witnessing what you suspect is an active or in-progress wildlife violation, please call 800-662-3337.

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