Elk NetworkUtah K-9 Helps Crack Elk Poaching Case

General | January 27, 2023

Below is part of a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. For 2023, Fiocchi partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching incidents and try to reduce poaching nationwide.

Conservation officer Justin Brimhall and Cooper have worked together as the K-9 team in southeastern Utah since May 2021. In the fall of 2021, they were contacted to assist another DWR conservation officer with a case. A man and his son were suspected of shooting a bull elk on a limited-entry hunting unit while using a youth any bull permit, which does not allow them to hunt the limited-entry unit.

Officer Justin Brimhall and K-9 Cooper

The conservation officer had an idea of where the elk carcass was but was unable to locate it to use as evidence in the case. Brimhall and Cooper responded to the scene to look for the elk. They searched in the area for roughly an hour without locating anything. Then, they began searching a different section of the area and K-9 Cooper began to cross a gully and climbed a small hill. When Brimhall reached Cooper, he was sitting proudly right next to the missing elk carcass. Part of the elk was taken for evidence, as well as the GPS location.

Returning early the next day for further examination in daylight, the investigating officer responding to the scene found upon arrival that the elk had been removed. Shoe prints found at the scene were later tied to the suspect — who had removed the elk — and were used to help in the prosecution of the case.

“I’m proud of the work I’ve been able to do with my dog and the difference he has made in several of these instances,” Brimhall said.

If you ever suspect illegal activity involving wildlife, please report it to a DWR conservation officer using one of the following methods:

  • Call the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline at 1-800-662-3337. (The UTiP hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the quickest way to report a wildlife violation. The number is also printed on your hunting and fishing licenses.)
  • Use the UTDWR Law Enforcement app.
  • Text officers at 847411.
  • Report online through the DWR website.

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)