Many drivers on S.R. 224 along the Park City entryway likely saw the elk carcass on the side of the road late last week and through the weekend.
One and perhaps two, though, stopped to claim a prize from the dead animal, the Park City Police Department was told on Friday. Police dispatchers received two reports from people saying they saw someone attempting to remove the antlers from the carcass. The elk had been killed by a vehicle. The police at about 6 a.m. on Friday received a report that the animal had been hit close to the McPolin Farm.
The first call about antlers was received at 2:33 p.m. Police logs indicated the caller told dispatchers they witnessed someone sawing the antlers off. Later that day, at 7:54 p.m., the police received another report. Police logs showed that someone was attempting to remove the antlers. Information available on public logs did not provide details about the method, though, in the later case.
Brent Kasza, the state Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer assigned to Summit County, said someone is not allowed to unlawfully possess antlers or horns removed from an animal.
"You cannot cut the antlers off an elk or a deer," Kasza said.
The Police Department informed Kasza of a case on Friday. Kasza responded to the scene of the 2:33 p.m. report. He said the person is from outside of Utah. He did not provide details about the person. Kasza issued the person a written warning after speaking to him.
"He had no idea you couldn't do that," Kasza said.
He said the man had removed one of the antlers with the saw before a Park City officer arrived. He was removing the second one when the officer got there, he said. Kasza said he seized the antler from the person and then took the other one off himself.
The antlers will be put into an annual auction by the division. He said antlers from animals killed in auto accidents are sold at auction each year, allowing someone to purchase them legally.
The elk was a bull that was roughly two years old. The antlers were approximately 14 inches in length, he said.
"People have a huge desire to possess antlers," Kasza said.
Elk and deer are common in the Park City area, and they are regularly spotted along S.R. 224. Animals killed in collisions with vehicles are occasionally seen on the S.R. 224 entryway. Later on the day that the animal was hit, at 9:32 p.m., an elk herd was seen on the side of S.R. 224. The person who contacted the police was worried the elk would move into the road, according to police logs.
Kasza said the law that prohibits removing antlers from roadkill ensures fairness in the market for the antlers. He also said it is dangerous for a driver to pull to the side of the road to gather the antlers from an animal killed by a vehicle, saying the person could be hit or cause an accident. Kasza, meanwhile, said wildlife officials do not want drivers to purposely hit an animal to collect the antlers.
He said the division takes cases like the ones last week in Park City seriously. The state allows people to gather shed antlers. They must complete a course before gathering them depending on the time of year.