SALT LAKE CITY — A total of 1,056 wild animals and fish were illegally harvested in Utah in 2023, a slight decrease from the number of wildlife illegally killed in 2022.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Josh Carver displays an example of illegally poached wildlife, date not specified | Photo courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

“Each animal that is illegally killed in our state is one less animal for legal hunters, wildlife enthusiasts and everyday residents to enjoy,” Utah Department of Wildlife Resources Capt. Chad Bettridge said. “Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah’s wildlife.”

According to a Utah DWR press release, the total combined value of the wildlife illegally killed last year was a little over $619,000.

In 2023, DWR’s K-9 officers helped investigate 114 cases throughout the state.

Some of the animals illegally killed last year included:

133 deer, 23 of which were classified as trophy animals
150 elk, 31 of which were classified as trophy animals
4 moose
11 bison
7 bears
485 fish

The remaining illegally killed wildlife included small game animals, waterfowl and a variety of other wildlife species.

Here’s a look at the number of animals illegally killed in Utah over the past few years:

2022: 1,283 wild animals, valued at more than $609,000
2021: 1,153 animals, valued at more than $610,000 (because several of the big game animals were classified as trophy animals)
2020: 1,079 animals, valued over $387,000
2019: 1,065 animals, valued over $384,000

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is asking for help from the public following the discover of 173 illegally killed wild animals, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy Utah DWR, St. George News

A total of 4,567 citations were issued for violations in 2023, compared to 4,074 citations in 2022. Last year, individuals were most often cited for fishing or hunting without a valid license, state officials said.

In 2023, 46 people had their hunting or fishing privileges suspended in Utah, compared to:

66 suspensions in 2022
54 suspensions in 2021
35 suspensions in 2020
84 suspensions in 2019

Utah is a member state of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. License suspensions in Utah are recognized in all the other states in the U.S., except Hawaii.

There are currently five K-9 officers in the DWR that help investigate a variety of wildlife cases. They locate wildlife that were illegally killed, find discarded or hidden evidence and assist with many other tasks.

There are the various ways concerned citizens can report illegal or suspicious wildlife activities:

Call the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline at 800-662-3337. (The UTiP hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the quickest way to report a wildlife violation.)
Use the UTDWR Law Enforcement app.
Text officers at 847411.
Report online through the DWR website.

The text option was implemented in 2021, and 670 tips were submitted through it last year, many of which resulted in successful investigations and prosecutions of wildlife-related crimes. The hotline number received approximately 1,000 tips in 2023.

“Our officers can’t be everywhere at once, so we need your help,” Bettridge said. “Please keep your eyes and ears open and report any suspicious wildlife-related activity to us. Working together, we can enforce wildlife laws to maintain healthy populations, and to also keep those recreating outdoors safe.”

Not all wildlife violations are committed intentionally. To learn about common illegal hunting and fishing mistakes, visit the DWR website.

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