Guest editorial: Summit County poachers are a terror
Summit County poachers are a living terror and they’re in your backyard.
Neighborhoods in The Preserve, Pine Brook, Jeremy Ranch, Summit Park, Highland Estates, The Colony, Timberline, Tollgate Canyon, Round Valley and beyond are staging areas for wildlife poachers.
Residential developments offer easy access to trophy hunters who illegally kill and behead wildlife in Summit County. Natural landscapes filled with housing force wildlife to seek islands of native habitat for shelter, food and water. The remaining open spaces and private ranches bordering our residential communities are killing fields littered with the headless carcasses of majestic bull elk, moose and deer.
Wildlife poachers live nearby, executing their illegal trade in person, in secret and in valued open spaces. Trespassing on private property to hunt wildlife is often organized by criminal poaching groups. Posing as hunting guides, poachers lure unsuspecting clients who pay them thousands of dollars for a chance to kill a 1,100-pound North American bull elk with a five-foot antler spread. The poacher’s clients are then guided onto private land for an illegal kill.
In one recent example, after years of a serious investigation conducted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources law enforcement, a family of felons and international poachers living in Summit County were arrested and criminally prosecuted again but merely fined by judicial authorities.
Poachers who escape justice, more often than not, are emboldened. Being unlicensed; hunting out of season; trespassing; using drones, high-tech tracking apps, and hidden cameras; and wildlife beheadings are the poachers’ game. They don’t follow rules like lawful, licensed hunters. Instead, they take pleasure in the unlawful destruction of wildlife.
Last week, I saw two headless elk on private land. Once alive and magnificent, these wild animals were undignified remains left in ruin. A wildly beautiful creature senselessly dismembered by a poacher is beyond gruesome and heartbreaking. It is criminal.
We are awestruck by the rare glimpse of a vibrant elk herd living among us. But it is not enough. Helping to protect the lives sharing our landscape is vitally important.
Hunting season is in full swing. Please be aware of the individuals day and night circulating in and around your neighborhoods. Poachers have staging areas in local neighborhoods, paths and roadways. If you suspect or see something, do something.
A $15,000 cash award is being offered by a private citizen for the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) who specifically poached and beheaded two elk in East Canyon around September 23, 2022. If you read, saw or heard something posted on social media — or if you witness a wildlife violation, or are aware of a prior wildlife violation — please tell Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers. Four contact options are listed below, in order of urgency:
Have you ever seen a painter step back a few feet from her canvas and narrow her eyes? Or been that painter? What we are doing is trying to see our work as someone-else-not-the-maker would. It’s almost pointless to ask why that matters. We’re social beings.
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