DWR stepping up efforts to find and stop poaching
MORONI — Utah conservation officers are on the prowl for poachers, including some who illegally killed a four-point buck deer near Moroni last week.
The Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) released a statement about the Moroni poaching incident last week. According to investigators, a concerned citizen contacted Utah DWR Sergeant Matt Briggs about witnessing a four-point buck deer being shot and left near Moroni.
The witness approached the poaching suspects, but the suspects fled in a side-by-side toward the Blue Hills Road.
Conservation officers determined that the deer was shot in a nearby field before it died on the road between Pea Valley and Blue Hills Road. It had been shot multiple times, according to the DWR statement.
The responding officers were unable to locate the suspects, but the witness described them as driving a multi-colored side-by-side, possibly a blue and white RZR, with an 18- to 24-inch light bar above the driver’s head.
According to investigators, shortly before the deer was killed, someone saw the side-by-side being driven through Pea Valley. Investigators believe the suspects are from the Moroni or North Sanpete area.
With the winter season in full effect, efforts to prevent poaching incidents like this one are being ramped up.
Conservation officers with the DWR will be focusing most of their law enforcement efforts in areas where deer congregate in the winter. They have one goal in mind: protect Utah’s deer from poachers.
DWR Captain Mitch Lane said that in the winter, deer congregate on ranges at lower elevations. As large groups of deer bunch together, they provide poachers with an enticing target. But the deers’ behavior helps wildlife officers too: it directs them to areas where poaching will most likely happen.
Lane says officers aren’t focusing their efforts entirely on popular winter ranges, though. “Our officers know their districts really well,” Lane said, “including remote areas that draw deer. If there’s an area in Utah that attracts deer in the winter, our officers know about it and will be watching it.”
Lane encourages residents to get involved too.
“I’d like to ask (residents) to program 1-800-662-3337 into (their) cell phone,” he said. “That’s the telephone number for our Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline. If you see anything suspicious this winter—especially in areas where deer congregate in the winter—please call us. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Lane said patrol efforts are underway on winter ranges across Utah. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers this spring.
According to Lane, so far in 2016, wildlife officers have documented the illegal killing of 250 mule deer in Utah. Most of the deer were bucks. The antlers on 10 of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.
“If you care about the state’s wildlife, please understand that poachers took those animals away from you,” Land said. “Most hunters and those who enjoy watching wildlife would have been thrilled to have taken or seen any of these bucks.”
He said the monetary value of the poached deer to Utah’s citizens is $176,000.
If you have information about the killing of the deer in Moroni — or about any other wildlife violation — follow Lane’s suggestion to report it by calling the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher Hotline at 1-800-662-3337 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A reward may be available for information leading to the identification and successful prosecution of those involved in poaching deer. Requests for confide