Utah winter range patrols underway

Conservation officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources will be focusing most of their law enforcement efforts in areas in which deer congregate in the winter. They have one goal in mind: protect Utah’s mule deer from poachers.

DWR Captain Mitch Lane says in the winter, deer congregate on ranges at lower elevations. As large groups of deer bunch together, they provide poachers with an enticing target. But the deers’ behavior helps wildlife officers too: it directs them to areas where poaching will most likely happen.

Lane says officers aren’t focusing their efforts entirely on popular winter ranges, though. “Our officers know their districts really well,” Lane says, “including remote areas that draw deer. If there’s an area in Utah that attracts deer in the winter, our officers know about it and will be watching it.”

Lane encourages you to get involved too.

“I’d like to ask you to program 1-800-662-3337 into your cell phone,” he says. “That’s the telephone number for our Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline. If you see anything suspicious this winter — especially in areas where deer congregate in the winter — please call us. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Lane says patrol efforts are underway on winter ranges across Utah. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers this spring.

Poachers take a big toll

So far in 2016, wildlife officers have documented the illegal killing of 250 mule deer in Utah.

Most of the deer were bucks. The antlers on 10 of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.

“If you care about the state’s wildlife,” Lane says, “please understand that poachers took those animals away from you. Most hunters, and those who enjoy watching wildlife, would have been thrilled to have taken or seen any of these bucks.”

The monetary value of the poached deer, to Utah’s citizens, is $176,000.