Bull moose illegally shot in Soapstone Basin
Two unidentified individuals illegally shot a bull moose in the Soapstone Basin area in Summit County earlier this month.
Officer Brent Kasza said he responded to reports of a poached bull moose on Oct.11, between Mirror Lake Highway and State Road 35. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Conservation was notified about the shooting via the UTip hotline.
After arriving in the area, Kasza located the small bull boose and said he noticed blood coming down the animal’s leg.
"It was still able to get up and run away from me," Kasza said. "I just wanted to give it every chance that I could to survive."
Kasza followed up with people in the area to determine whether or not the animal survived the shooting, but was unable to locate either the animal or anyone who had seen it. At this point, Kasza said it could still be alive.
"I’m hoping that it’s still alive," he said. "But it’s pretty tough to find an animal in a really back wilderness area."
About 20 people were interviewed and questioned about the shooting, with only one witness able to provide credible information. The witness described two male individuals, both in their thirties, with two four-wheelers parked near them.
Based on the information from the interviews, Kasza said he believes the people responsible for the shooting were elk hunting legallly but may have misidentified the moose. At the time of the shooting, it was rifle season for elk.
"My experience as a game warden for the past four years is that sometimes mistaken identity happens and somebody shoots the wrong animal," he said. "I don’t think they identified their target and after they shot it, they probably got a better look at the animal and noticed it was a moose."
Penalties and fines for killing big game in Summit County vary depending on the case and animal.
If it is a trophy moose, which is defined by weight and size, an individual could be charged with a second-degree felony and required to pay fines and restitution in the amount of $16,000.
For other unlawful taking of animal cases, a person could face a third-degree felony, which is punishable with up to five years in prison, and the fine would be $10,000 plus restitution in the amount of $1,000.
Summit County attorney David Brickey said even if a judge doesn’t impose the prison sentence, there is the likelihood that the judge could impose a jail sentence of anywhere from 60 days to a year.
Kasza advised hunters to make sure they identify their targets to avoid the risk of accidentally illegally shooting the wrong animal. Wednesday, Oct. 29 marked the opening for muzzleloader elk hunting, which lasts through Thursday, Nov. 6.
"People need to know the different species in area and they need to be able to identify those targets before they pull the trigger," he said.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources asked that anyone with information regarding the illegal killing of this animal, or any other, contact the UTiP Hotline at 800-662-3337.
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