Poachers ‘stealing’ wildlife remains a troubling issue in Utah

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Wildlife authorities in Utah this week revealed that more than 1,000 wild animals were killed illegally in 2021, marking the continuation of a troubling trend.

According to the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources, hunters and anglers last year illegally harvested 1,153 animals with an estimated value of $6,100.

It was at least the third consecutive year in which the number of poached wildlife increased.

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Deer topped the list, with 180 deer, including 34 “trophy” bucks, having been killed illegally.

Elk (113, including18 trophy bull elk) were the second most targeted species.

Also on the the list: 17 mountain lions, 11 bears, five moose, one bighorn sheep, and 374 fish.

“The remaining illegally killed wildlife include a variety of small game animals, waterfowl and a variety of other wildlife species,” the DWR stated in a news release issued Wednesday.

In 2020, 1,079 animals worth an estimated $387,000 were killed illegally in Utah. In 2019, 1,065 animals worth $384,000 were poached.

In 2021, the state issued 4,394 citations and suspended the hunting or fishing privileges of 48 people. The suspension figure was up from 2020 (35), but down significantly from 2019 (84).

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

–Elk image courtesy of ©Pete Thomas