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Wildlife Protection Laws Are Seriously Enforced


Credit DWR

Hunting season is upon us and DWR law enforcement is in the field checking licenses. So far this year about 70 fishing and hunting licenses have been suspended throughout the state.

KPCW has this report explaining how sports persons can stay in compliance with wildlife management laws and regulations.

DWR Enforcement Officer, J Shirley says once a license is revoked or suspended for wildlife resource violations, the repercussions can be lasting.

“And that suspension period is also based on the level of the offense. Whether it’s a class B misdemeanor or a class A or a felony. So, those can vary anywhere from one year to seven years and sometimes it’s doubled if it was a trophy animal that was taken. In real egregious circumstances, we will just suspend everything.”

The DWR has 50 to 60 field officers so they rely on the public to come forward if they see something or hear something suspicious.  A revocation or suspension of a license typically happens after criminal prosecution. Shirley explains the wanton destruction charges can range from misdemeanor to felony depending on the animal.

“That’s individuals that knowingly and intentionally break the law and they kill protected wildlife in the process, and we will typically use that statute.”

Since the late 1980’s Utah has been a part of an inter-state compact that helps keep track abuses or neglectful practices by hunters and anglers.

“The great thing about the wildlife violator compact is that 49 other states, well, 48  and Utah are included int hat compact and if you lose your privileges to hunt or to fish in Utah, you lose them in every other state in the country besides Hawaii.”

Most common citations he says have to do with license violations and he says hunters and anglers can prepare by knowing the areas they plan to visit and paying attention to what the license allows them to take.

Shirley says a few units around the state allow hunters to take does depending on the herd populations and the condition of the range.

“The purpose of wildlife management and wildlife laws is to benefit wildlife and protect the public so there are a few areas where there are some doe harvests allowed. And also, antlerless elk hunts are very popular.”

He says most bear hunts are over for this year with just a few remaining in November. He says there’s an increase statewide for cougar permits.

Moose sightings are frequent throughout the year in Summit and Wasatch Counties. However, Shirley says the overall statewide moose population has decreased due to weather, drought conditions and development.

“I think what we end up with is a lot of human encroachment in areas where moose are. A lot more people out in the back country whether you’re hunting or hiking or just recreating. And, that interaction between the public and wildlife is always, whether it’s a moose, a cougar, a deer or an elk, is always something we need to be very careful of when we’re out there in the field.”

The most common violation with fishing is people fishing without a license.  Shirley says there are many community fisheries that are stocked and close to urban areas, usually with a two fish limit. There are separate regulations for renown fisheries like Strawberry Reservoir.

Licenses can be downloaded to a cell phone with the DWR app. Review the regulations every year. Shirley says they change depending on public input and what’s best for the species.  

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