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Over 1,000 animals poached in Utah in 2019

Over 1,000 animals poached in Utah in 2019

Photo credit: Shutterstock

There were over 1,000 animals illegally killed in Utah in 2019. Last week, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) announced that 1,050 animals were poached last year, making last year’s total higher than 2018’s total of 927 animals. The total includes all animals taken illegally, including trophy fish as well as trophy elk.

“Each animal that is illegally killed in our state is one less animal that legal hunters, wildlife enthusiasts or everyday citizens have the opportunity to enjoy,” said UDWR Sgt. Chad Bettridge. “Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah's wildlife.”

While 2019’s total number of wildlife poached was higher than 2018, the combined value—over $386,000—was actually lower. This is due to different monetary values assigned to each species, according to the agency. Someone guilty of poaching a trophy fish pays significantly less than someone charged with poaching a trophy elk—$25 compared to $8,000. 

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According to UDWR, here’s the breakdown for 2019:

  • Average value of poached animal: $396
  • Total number of citations for unlawful take and wanton destruction: 526
  • Overall number of violations “detected” by UDWR conservation officers: 3,525

“We need your help,” said Bettridge. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report suspicious activity to us. Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws and keep our recreating public safe.”

See something suspicious? Call the UTiP hotline at 1-800-662-DEER (3337).

7 Comments

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Cora A. - posted 1 week ago on 03-21-2020 06:13:58 am

It's so sad that these animals are equivalent to prestigious awards or trophy for the hunters. @wilkinsonstrophy.com

Jason W. - posted 2 months ago on 01-21-2020 09:32:58 am
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Brennan A.- You are exactly right! If it doesn't change, poaching will be the least of our worries.

k E. - posted 2 months ago on 01-20-2020 07:18:41 pm

A poaching study done about 20 years ago came to the conclusion that less than 5% of wildlife violations are detected. So increase that number from 1000 to at 20000. Poaching in Utah is no worse than anywhere else in the west.

Brennan A. - posted 2 months ago on 01-13-2020 08:14:36 pm
Murray, UT
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Unfortunately here in Utah there is a strong anti-government/land-of-the-free culture that contributes to this. Particularly on the big game hunting side of things. It's also why there's so much anti-public land sentiment here. It really stinks cause Utah has so much to offer as far as hunting and fishing go.

DALE G. - posted 2 months ago on 01-13-2020 03:11:57 pm
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I agree the fines are no where near what they should be to fit the crime of actually illegally taking a life of an animal not to mention what it dose for the image of hunting in the public mind. We as hunters know that people who poach are not hunters there complete selfish individuals with no ethics who could careless about other hunters or the life of the animals they take. Punishment needs to be more severe......

Justin Z. - posted 2 months ago on 01-13-2020 09:51:40 am
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And these are just the instances the DWR is aware of. The true number of animals poached is assuredly much higher. Quite sad for us law abiding sportsmen....

Gary H. - posted 2 months ago on 01-13-2020 09:28:42 am
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Poachers steal our ability to enjoy ALL wildlife across the USA.

Cut off their hands or make the fines so severe that people would loose everything. After all they are taking away from everybody...why shouldn't everybody take away from them by taking everything that is dear to them.

I got into a heated debate last night about someone thinking it was OK to fill their wife's deer tags in addition to their own. Needless to say they know where I stand on that issue. Same guy cries about not seeing good bucks all season...