SALT LAKE CITY — After a long winter, young people may be looking for a reason to get outdoors and do some target shooting. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers want to remind the public to be responsible when target shooting.
Recently, juveniles in Utah County are facing fines for shooting a doe deer while out target shooting last month.
Conservation officers received a call from a concerned citizen on the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) hotline about a possible poaching incident. The caller gave information and a vehicle description concerning a doe killed in an area known for wintering deer.
The phone call was incredibly valuable in helping officials investigate the poaching case.
When officers responded to the scene, they located a dead deer that had been shot and matched the bullet from the deer to a bullet casing in an area where some target shooting had taken place.
Upon further investigation, the conservation officers learned that four male juveniles had been target shooting in the area. While they were shooting, one of the individuals fired at the deer on the hillside.
“This is a very common place to go target shooting,” DWR Conservation Officer Shawn Bagley said. “But these individuals made a poor decision to break the law. People must be responsible and safe anytime they are shooting firearms. Additionally, parents must be involved anytime a juvenile has a firearm, so they can keep their kids safe and make sure they aren’t doing anything they shouldn’t be.”
The juveniles have been referred to juvenile court.
Anyone can be held accountable if they are involved in any facet of the crime using a firearm or to harm wildlife on state lands, Bagley said.
DWR offers the following tips to help for safe and target shoot responsibly:
- Use a good location, make sure you have a backstop and always know what is behind your target. (Make sure there aren’t any roads, houses, people or animals.)
- Use proper firearm safety and always treat your firearm like it is loaded when handling it.
- Don’t shoot near homes or other structures. (Per Utah law, it is illegal to discharge a firearm within 600 feet of a house, dwelling or any other building.)
- Don’t leave trash, including shell casings or pieces of the targets. Pack out what you bring.
DWR officers can’t be everywhere and rely on the public for reporting crimes against wildlife.
Getting a license plate number is the most critical piece of information you can provide to conservation officers. If you’re not able to get a license plate number, provide the officer with as much information as you can.
“Having a license plate number will lead us to the individual so we can interview the person and start investigating,” Shirley said. Other helpful details include the type and color of the vehicle the person was driving, how many people were involved and a description of what you saw. “And, if you can give us a GPS coordinate, that can guide us quickly to the area where the possible violation occurred.”
Don’t confront someone who might be committing a violation, just observe from a distance and take note of as many details as you can.
“We don’t want anyone to be put in harm’s way or to be in a situation that makes them uncomfortable,” DWR Capt. J Shirley said. “Report what you saw, and let us contact them.”
The hotline — 1-800-662-DEER (3337) — is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Please remember that the UTiP hotline is not an information line. Only call it to report possible poaching and other wildlife-related crimes.