SOUTHERN UTAH — Conservation officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources are focusing massive patrol efforts on ranges on which deer congregate in the winter. Officers are conducting the patrols for one reason: to protect Utah’s mule deer from poachers.
Tony Wood, chief of the DWR’s Law Enforcement Section said, winter is the time of year when deer congregate on ranges at lower elevations. As large groups of deer bunch together, they provide an enticing target for poachers. But the deer’s behavior helps wildlife officers too: it allows officers to zero in on the areas where poaching is most likely to occur.
“If there’s an area in Utah that attracts mule deer in the winter,” Wood said, “we’re watching it.”
Wood encourages people to get involved.
“This winter,” Wood said, “as you travel to areas where deer congregate, make sure 1-800-662-3337 is programmed 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 said 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
Winter range patrols are underway across Utah, he said. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers this spring.
Poachers take a big toll
So far in 2014, wildlife officers have investigated the illegal killing of 152 mule deer in Utah.
Most of the deer were bucks. The antlers on seven of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.
“If you’re a hunter,” Wood says, “you would have been thrilled to take any of these bucks. Poachers took that chance away from you.”
The monetary value of the animals to Utah’s citizens is $114,000.
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- Utah DWR: You are the front line in the war against poaching – 2012