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Wasatch County man cleared of poaching charges

duaneups - stock.adobe.com

Update: A Wasatch County man has been found not guilty on all charges of wanton destruction of protected wildlife. A jury acquitted Marc Bowthorpe April 30, 2024, three years after he was first charged for alleged bear and bobcat poaching.

Sept. 21, 2021 — Two Wasatch County men face charges of wanton destruction of protected wildlife in three bear poaching incidents and the illegal taking of a bobcat.

Marc Dennis Bowthorpe has three counts of third-degree felony and one count of a class A misdemeanor under Utah's Wanton Destruction of Protected Wildlife code. The charges identify four offense dates—May 4, 2020, May 19, 2020, March 26, 2021, and May 16, 2021.

Bowthorpe's charges allege he illegally harvested three bears and one bobcat.  His initial appearance in the fourth district court on October 6. Bowthorpe posted $22,500 in bail.

Utah Division of Wildlife Law Enforcement Division Captain Wyatt Bubak declined to confirm that Bowthorpe is or was associated with a hunting guide service. A web search shows Bowthorpe is a registered agent of Maple Creek Outfitters and is listed as the only principal related to the company.  The company's principal address is in Wallsburg, Utah. An Instagram account shows an association with Maple Creek Outfitters.

"For a number of years now, we'd received information that there were some possible illegal bear bait in Wasatch County. There were bear potentially being harvested, with the use of dogs off of illegal bear baits. And so, this year we're able to put a case together. It appears that that is a valid complaint, and it is part of the investigation that we're just in the final points of wrapping up now."

According to court records, Jared Stanford Jones faces one third-degree felony charge for an illegal taking of a bear on May 4, 2020.  Although Jones possessed a 2020  Spring Bear harvest tag, the allegation states he harvested a bear off Bowthorpe's illegal bait site and used dogs to run down the bear and kill it. His initial appearance in the fourth district court was September 15. His next appearance is November 10.

Bubak said bears can be hunted through creating a legal bait station, using hounds, or stalking.

When setting up a legal bait station, a certificate of registration or COR is required.  Bubak said using dogs to track a bear in conjunction with consolidating a bear's location by setting up a bait station is illegal.  Three of the charges against the Bowthorpe allege that he used a bait station illegally.

"Based on public documents in the court system, there are three charges for basically taking a bear off a bait, with the help of a dog, taking a bear illegally, as well as taking a bobcat illegally. That's not necessarily tied to that bait."

The bear hunting season will vary across the state depending on when they come out of hibernation. Utah manages predators, and the bear hunt is a result of a complex assessment of prey animals.

"So, if we're seeing a ton of depredation on deer as a result of bear, because of that, we're unable to maintain a healthy deer herd, we may allow for the harvest of some more bear in that area to try to help the deer herd recoup, while not harvesting so many that it's a detriment to the bear population."

Bubak recommends anyone hunting in Utah learn all the regulations. He said fishing and hunting guidebooks are online on the DWR website. With only 50 officers covering the entire state, he urges people to use its hotline or the violation reporting app to alert DWR law enforcement of illegal hunting practices in the wild.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.