Beheaded elk found at 910 Cattle Ranch
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is investigating the poaching of a bull elk on property Summit County recently acquired for conservation and recreation.
The Summit County Council passed an ordinance criminalizing hunting on the property Sept. 6 although it can’t enforce the new law until it posts proper signage about prohibited activities.
Still, there’s enough evidence and signage for the Division of Wildlife Resources to begin an investigation.
“Someone killed a bull elk on the property, which is clearly marked with ‘no trespassing’ signs,” DWR Northern Region Outreach Manager Mark Hadley said. “Whoever killed the elk removed its head and just a small portion of its meat. The rest of the meat was left to waste.”
The incident resembles another poaching incident on the 910 Cattle Ranch last September, when two headless elk were found in the same area. No arrests have since been made.
Hadley said the investigation into the latest poaching incident is just beginning. So far, there are no suspects.
In the meantime, Councilmember Canice Harte said the county will step up policing and patrolling the 910 Cattle Ranch.
“The county attorney's office has said that they will go after people with full force, so the big question then is catching them,” Harte said.
He said the county is exploring high- and low-tech options. The Summit County Sheriff’s Office may patrol the ranch, and the county is fielding applications from residents who want to be ambassadors too.
Harte said they are looking for 25 people to roam the land on skis, horseback, ATVs or their own two feet, establishing a presence and reporting on conditions. Applications are available on the county’s website.
It would be a way to help ensure the property is being properly managed.
“It seems to me—it’s horrible, to decapitate this animal. I assume they're just taking it for the rack and then just leaving the body,” Harte said. “I can't imagine there's a single hunter out there that would support a poacher.”
Bernolfo has sued multiple individuals in civil court for hunting on his property before.
And in 2021, members of a Hoytsville family pleaded guilty to criminal charges for shooting elk on the ranch.
One of the family members had approached Bernolfo in 2019, saying they ran a beaver removal business.
Summit County prosecutors said they subsequently installed trail cameras and poached elk that year. The investigation revealed they’d trespassed and killed an elk in 2017 too.
Prosecutors in Morgan County indicted another man in July for a separate poaching incident on their side of the county line. The suspect allegedly killed a bull elk out of season on the 910 Cattle Ranch in 2019.
The suspected poacher’s first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 25.
Anyone with information about poaching incidents is asked to contact the DWR:
• Text 847411
• Call the Utah-Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline at 800-662-3337
• Use the UTDWR Law Enforcement app
• Online at https://wildlife.utah.gov/report-a-poacher.html