UTAH -- Conservation officers are investigating two separate cases where multiple deer have been poached, and two adults have been arrested in Tooele County while several juveniles in Emery County have been linked to the killing of 15-20 deer.
According to the Utah Division of Wildlife, a report of shots fired in Tooele County on January 7 led police to a vehicle where two people had allegedly just killed a 4x5 mule deer buck illegally.
Those suspects were booked for killing that deer and another deer back in July, and authorities believe those two men and two others are likely responsible for killing at least six other deer in the last few months.
Two of the suspects were booked on counts of wanton destruction of protected wildlife, and they also face charges relating to drugs, alcohol, trespassing and weapons violations. Further charges, including potential felony charges, are expected.
"If more than one deer was killed in the same episode or at the same time, it would elevate the seriousness of that violation to a felony," Capt. Mitch Lane of the Utah DWR said. "So we could have, potentially, multiple felony charges."
In Emery County, authorities have been investigating the deaths of 15 to 20 deer near the town of Orangeville. Those deaths have been linked to two juveniles believed to be responsible for most of the deaths, and two others may have been involved to a lesser extent, according to DWR.
The deer killed in Emery County include bucks, does and fawns, all of which were shot and "left to waste over the last few weeks."
DWR stated in their press release that is not common for them to face cases involving illegal killings, "let alone two of this nature at the same time. Both of these cases are example of how vulnerable deer are this time of year, when they are congregated on their winter range and just trying to survive the winter."
The DWR asks the public to remain vigilant, and anyone who sees or has knowledge of alleged poaching activity is asked to call the Utah Turn in a Poacher Hotline at 800-662-3337. All tipsters may remain anonymous.