Elk NetworkFour Utahns Convicted of Wildlife-Related Violations

General | August 14, 2020

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Four Utahns had their hunting or fishing licenses suspended recently after the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ monthly hearing on June 2. The individuals had all previously been convicted in district or justice court in connection with a variety of wildlife-related violations.

License suspension hearings are typically held at the Utah Department of Natural Resources building in Salt Lake City on the first Tuesday of each month and are open to the public. However, due to COVID-19, the June hearing was held via telephone, in order to follow social distancing guidelines.

During the hearing, a hearing officer, appointed by the DWR director, receives the details of the case and then determines whether the individual’s hunting or fishing license will be suspended. For a hunting or fishing license to be suspended, the hearing officer must conclude that the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly violated a suspension-qualifying law.

The lengths of various suspensions are established by the Utah Legislature and are based on the designated class of crime. If the crime is determined to be a class C misdemeanor, the suspension is one year. For a class B, it’s three years. For a class A misdemeanor, it’s five years, and for a felony, it’s a seven-year suspension. However, those suspension lengths can be doubled for two reasons: if your license was already suspended at the time of the crime or if the crime involves a trophy animal.

Those who had their hunting or fishing privileges revoked during the hearing include:

A Heber City man who was convicted in Wasatch County’s 4th District Court of wanton destruction of protected wildlife.

A Vernal man who was convicted in Uintah County Justice Court of wanton destruction of protected wildlife, allowing protected wildlife to waste or spoil and trespassing during a wildlife-related activity.

A Murray man who was convicted in Wasatch County Justice Court of wanton destruction of protected wildlife.

A Bear River man who was convicted in Box Elder County’s 1st District Court of attempted wanton destruction of protected wildlife and hunting on a Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit (CWMU) without a valid CWMU permit.

Bear River trophy bull elk case

DWR conservation officers received a tip from witnesses who reported seeing a man shoot a trophy bull elk on the North Peaks CWMU on Sept. 18, 2019. The witnesses said the man shot the elk from the road, and they didn’t believe he had the proper permit to hunt on the CWMU. The officer visited the area and noticed 16 posted CWMU signs along the roadway. Upon further investigation, DWR officers found that the man had driven a vehicle onto the private CWMU property to retrieve the elk.

Officers interviewed the man the next day, and he confirmed that he’d killed the trophy elk. However, he’d believed that he was outside the CWMU boundary and that he’d killed the elk on Bureau of Land Management property with his valid limited-entry bull elk tag.

Due to the man’s cooperation during the investigation and his lack of prior wildlife offenses, the hearing officer ruled that the case warrants a five-year suspension — rather than a doubled 10-year suspension due to the elk’s trophy status — of big game hunting privileges for the man, beginning Jan. 13, 2020.

Heber City buck deer case

In November 2018, DWR conservation officers were contacted by a man regarding a guided hunt that he and his son had gone on in October 2017. The man stated that he had purchased and set up the hunt with a guide on a CWMU, and he was under the assumption that the guide had taken care of getting the proper permit for the hunt. With the guide’s assistance, the man’s son harvested a buck deer on the property.

Over a year later, the hunting guide contacted the man again and asked him to tell people that the guide had shot and killed the deer and then gifted it to his son. The guide told the man that he hadn’t actually acquired a CWMU permit for his son and that he’d tagged the deer with his own CWMU tag.

The hearing officer ruled that the case warrants a five-year suspension of big game hunting privileges for the hunting guide, beginning Jan. 9, 2020.

Vernal duck poaching case

On Jan. 30, 2020, a DWR conservation officer received a tip that a man had shot a mallard duck and then posted a photo of it on social media. The officer responded to the site of the incident and located the man leaving the area. The man admitted to the officer that he had shot the duck with a rifle (which isn’t a legal weapon for harvesting ducks) and then left it near a canal where he’d shot it. The man led the officer to the area, which was private property marked by no trespassing signs. The man was under a previous wildlife license suspension order at the time he shot the duck.

The hearing officer ruled that the case warrants a six-year suspension — doubled from three years because the violation occurred under an existing suspension order — of all hunting privileges for the man, beginning July 6.

Murray fish case

A DWR conservation officer was checking fishing licenses at Strawberry Reservoir on Feb. 22, 2020. The officer made contact with a man who was in possession of two cutthroat trout that were between 15 inches and 22 inches (a length range known as a slot limit). Strawberry Reservoir has a slot limit that requires all cutthroat trout between 15 and 22 inches to be released immediately. The man had previously been cited for keeping cutthroat trout of this same size at Strawberry Reservoir.

The hearing officer ruled that the case warrants an 18-month suspension of fishing privileges for the man, beginning July 15.

Individuals may appeal their license suspensions to the Utah Wildlife Board within 30 days of the date any suspension order is issued. All appeals must be in writing.

For 2020, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is partnering with Remington to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching nationwide.

(Photo source:  Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)