Officers need your help
Conservation officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources are conducting massive patrols on ranges on which deer congregate in the winter. They’re conducting the patrols with one goal in mind: to protect Utah’s mule deer from poachers.
Tony Wood, chief of the DWR’s Law Enforcement Section, says 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.
Officers aren’t focusing their efforts entirely on popular winter ranges, though. “If there’s an area in Utah that attracts mule deer in the winter,” Wood says, “we’re watching it.”
Wood encourages you to get involved.
“This winter,” he says, “before you travel to an area where deer congregate, program 1-800-662-3337 into your cell phone. That’s our Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline number. If you see anything suspicious, call us. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Wood says DWR officers are doing the following this winter:
– Patrolling winter ranges at night. Officers are conducting these patrols on land and from the air.
– Conducting saturation patrols that put several DWR officers on the same piece of winter range at the same time.
Wood says winter range patrols are underway across Utah. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers this spring.
Poachers take a big toll
So far in 2015, wildlife officers have documented the illegal killing of 208 mule deer in Utah.
Most of the deer were bucks. The antlers on 16 of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.
“If you’re a hunter or someone who enjoys watching deer,” Wood says, “you would have been thrilled to have taken or seen any of these bucks. Poachers took that chance from you.”
The monetary value of the animals to Utah’s citizens is $204,800.