Patrols protect mule deer from poachers; you can help

Mule deer buck and doe, location and date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News
DWR officers have launched a massive patrol effort. Their goal? Protect mule deer on winter ranges in Utah, location and date unknown | Photo by Mitch Lane, courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News
DWR officers have launched a massive patrol effort. Their goal? Protect mule deer on winter ranges in Utah, location and date unknown | Photo by Mitch Lane, courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Poachers hoping to pick off mule deer may find themselves making the acquaintance of conservation officers with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources this winter season.

DWR officials announced Friday that the agency has launched massive patrols across ranges where deer gather for the winter so they can protect the animals from poachers.

During the winter, deer gather in ranges at lower elevations, said Tony Wood, DWR’s Law Enforcement Section chief, according to a news release. The gathered deer present a tempting target to poachers yet give officers a clue where poachers may be congregating as well.

DWR officials also said in the news release that conservation officers are covering ranges wherever deer are found.

DWR officers will be patrolling the winter ranges at night, conducting those patrols on the ground and by air. They will also be conducting saturation patrols that will place several officers in the same area of a winter range at the same time.

Division of Wildlife Resources officers show what they're trying to stop this winter -- the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah. Circa fall-winter 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Utah DWR, St. George News
Division of Wildlife Resources officers show what they’re trying to stop this winter — the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah. Circa fall-winter 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Utah DWR, St. George News

The winter range patrols are underway across Utah, according to the news release. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers in the spring.

If you plan to visit a range where the deer are gathering, DWR officials ask you to program 1-800-662-3337 into your mobile phone and be ready to call if you see anything strange.

“That’s our ‘Turn-in-a-Poacher’ hotline number,” Wood said. “If you see anything suspicious, call us. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

So far, 208 mule deer in Utah have been poached this year, according to the news release, most of them bucks. The antlers on 16 of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.

The dollar value of the animals is estimated at $204,800.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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