The DWR says deer, elk and fish are among the most common wildlife in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced Tuesday that 173 wild animals have been killed illegally since Aug. 1. While DWR says most of those were fish, there were 15 large animals that were illegally caught.

Capt. Chad Bettridge, with DWR Enforcement, spoke to KSL NewsRadio about which animals are poached and what the potential penalties are.

Above all, Betteridge says Utah has a lot of animals to hunt and plenty of hunting opportunities. However, a license for both is required in the state.

“But if you don’t have these things,” he said. “Or if you’re not following the established rules, you’ve taken that animal illegally, which is poaching.”

Betteridge was asked, How do you know when poaching is occurring?

“So our officers are out and about, and their daily mission is to patrol the backcountry, mountains and waterways,” he said. “They check licenses, they check bag limits. They do things like that, and if they come across someone fishing without a license and they catch some fish. Then that’s something they address.”

In such cases, Betteridge says a warrant will be issued and the fish confiscated.

What are the most common animals poached in Utah?

“Now that it’s fall, it’s a great time to be a game warden,” Betteridge said.

With the advent of deer hunting and elk hunting, big game violations became more common, according to Betteridge.

Other than fish, he says deer are the most poached animal in the state. Additionally, Betteridge says elk are also popular targets for hunters.

Punishments for someone who steals

What are the consequences of poaching?

Just eating too much rainbow trout will result in a $25 fine, Betteridge says. However, there will be a Class B misdemeanor associated with that. So you will end up paying any additional court fees on top of the $25.

He says that the larger the animal, the more severe the punishment.

If an elk was killed illegally, it would be a felony, Betteridge says.

“Because the elk is valued at more than $500,” he said. “Just your daily elk walk is $750. Anything over $500 is a felony,” the legislature said.

To report a hunting violation electronically, click here.

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