ST. GEORGE – Federal and state wildlife officials are seeking the public’s help concerning a poaching incident in Zion National Park.
The National Park Service, in conjunction with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, is looking for information related to the poaching of a pregnant elk, according to an NPS statement Wednesday.
The killing is believed to have taken place last Saturday with the elk’s remains being found in the Lee Valley area off Kolob Terrace Road.
“Help from the public will play a crucial role in finding those responsible,” NPS officials said in the statement.
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call or text the NPS Investigative Services Branch tip line at 888-653-0009, or email email@example.com. You can also provide information online here and clicking on “Submit a Tip.”
Up to $1,500 is being offered in this case for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the party responsible.
While the party or parties involved in this incident are likely to face federal charges for poaching within a national park, on the state level, poaching an elk in Utah carries fine of up to $8,000.
“Because Utahns value wildlife so highly, convicted poachers face steep consequences,” wildlife officials state on the DWR website. “In addition to paying fines and restitution, poachers may also face jail time, the confiscation of hunting equipment and the loss of hunting and fishing privileges in multiple states.”
When someone is convicted of illegally killing or possessing protected wildlife, they often have to make restitution payments. These payments go into a fund that pays rewards to hunters who help catch and convict poachers.
The Utah Legislature has set the following amounts as minimum restitution for Utah’s trophy animals:
- $30,000 for either desert or Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep,
- $8,000 for deer with 24-inch antler spread or larger,
- $8,000 for elk with six points on at least one side,
- $6,000 for moose or mountain goat,
- $6,000 for bison,
- $2,000 for pronghorn.
If the DWR determines that a poacher’s crime is intentional or reckless, he or she may lose the right to hunt and fish in Utah and many other states. Utah is a member of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, which is an agreement among nearly three dozen states to honor each other’s decisions to deny licenses and permits to poachers.
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