Utah wildlife officials are not joking around with shed hunting ban.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is not joking around when it comes to the state-wide shed hunting ban they instituted last month.
The ban was implemented to lessen the impact on wintering animals in an especially rough winter in the west. The ban is in effect until April 1.
Now the DWR has announced citations have been issued to 16 different people for violating the ban. And the people who violated it are facing a class B misdemeanor for unlawful take of protected wildlife. This could mean a fine of up to $1,000.
The DWR has put 500 hours and counting into watching for people violating the ban. At least twice, conservation officers watched people pick up and subsequently stash away antlers, presumably to be picked up later.
At least one suspect denied the allegation when confronted by an officer, but fessed up later once confronted with evidence.
"At first the individual denied they were shed hunting, even though the officer watched him do it," DWR Captain Mitch Lane said in a press release. "It was easy to find the evidence, though: after the officer interviewed the person, and let him go, he followed the person's foot prints in the snow, right to the spots where the antlers were stashed."'
Lane further said in the release the people caught knew there was a ban in place, but apparently couldn't resist the temptation to go out and look for antlers.
The DWR also posted a photo of one of the people who was caught red-handed with sheds stuffed in a hoodie. Needless to say, the antlers were all confiscated in addition to the citation.
Wildlife officials have gotten some tips in some of the cases through their anti-poaching hotline and are encouraging the public to help catch others who may be violating the ban.
"We'd like to thank those who have helped us enforce the closure," Lane said in the release. "We encourage people to continue reporting violations they observe or they're aware of."
Anyone wanting to head out shed hunting legally in Utah will still have to wait a little under a month for when the ban ends.