DWR Ramps Up Poaching Patrols

Poachers shot this 6x5 buck on winter range in Iron County in November. Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

(KCPW News)  The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is ramping up patrols this winter in an effort to stop poachers from killing deer out-of-season. Captain Rick Olson of the division’s law enforcement section says they are teaming up with sportsman groups to put extra eyes and ears on the herd’s winter ranges.

“The last several years we’ve seen a major increase in the number of serial poaching rings that have taken multiple deer out of season on the winter ranges,” says Olson.  “So this year we’ve decided to put together this effort and see if we can curtail some of this.”

Olson says the division has just 79 conservation officers to patrol the state, so much of the effort will be concentrated on high-profile, premiere trophy deer locations.  He says poaching can cause the division’s deer counts to be inaccurate, which, in the long run, will further harm the deer population.

DWR officer Josh Carver shows what wildlife officers and volunteers are trying to stop this winter -- the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah. This 6x5 buck was shot in Iron County in November. Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

“So we can put more permits out than the population can withstand.  So we actually overharvest the bucks sometimes with legal tags because poachers took the ones that we had counted earlier,” says Olson.

Wildlife officers have investigated the illegal killing of almost 200 mule deer in Utah this year, including 22 trophy animals.  Those deer were estimated to hold a monetary value of more than $242,000.

DWR officers Devin Christensen (L) and J.D. Abbott show antlers from two bucks that were shot on winter range in San Juan County in November. Photo by Justin Shirley, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources