The killing of two elk in Emery County in late November 2003 led to significant fines and restitution for two hunters. It's also a good example of the importance of reporting accidental overlimits to the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
On November 29, 2003, two Emery County men were participating in the Poison Springs antlerless elk hunt when they shot and killed four elk three cows and a calf. The men possessed only two permits. Rather than contacting the Division of Wildlife Resources to notify an officer of their situation, they chose to abandon the elk.
Another hunter discovered the dead elk, and an investigation by DWR Conservation Officer Stacey Jones ensued. She located the suspects, who confessed to having unintentionally shot too many elk. After shooting the elk, they claimed they didn't know what to do. Because of their decision, the elk were left at the scene to waste.
Their choice proved to be a costly one. The shooter was charged with two felony counts of Wanton Destruction of Protected Wildlife an overlimit of elk and was allowed to plead guilty to two Class A Misdemeanor wanton destruction charges. He was fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution. His partner was charged with two counts of aiding and assisting in allowing protected wildlife to waste or spoil. He was fined $1,100.
This case illustrates a common situation of an accidental overlimit of elk while hunting. It could have resulted in simple Class B Misdemeanor charges if the incident had been reported and the hunters had salvaged the elk. Leaving the elk in the field and allowing them to go to waste elevated the incident to felony-level charges and resulted in significant fines and restitution. The defendants will also be subject to hunting license revocation.
The Division of Wildlife Resources encourages sportsmen and women to report suspicious activities in the field and to remember that someone is probably watching their actions in the field as well. Poor judgment and unintended over-harvest does occur. The best course of action is to salvage the game and call the DWR to report the situation.
Allowing wildlife to go to waste is one of the worst wildlife violations a sportsman can commit. Remember to do your part in being a responsible sportsperson.