Common Law Violations in Hunting & Fishing

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On public ground, you shot a deer, which fled onto a private property before dying there. When you killed what you believed to be a spike elk, you later learned that it was actually a cow elk. Before learning the reservoir’s four-fish catch restriction, you had just completed filleting the six rainbow trout you had captured. Learn what the conservation officers of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources want you to know before you find yourself in any of these situations.

Before entering the field, do your Research.

You wouldn’t fly a plane without planning and training, just as you shouldn’t go fishing or hunting if you don’t know the rules. DWR conservation officials frequently witness people fishing with expired licenses or killing animals without a legal permission. People fail to thoroughly examine their licenses and permissions, which leads to this.

To receive a hunting license in Utah, you must either attend a hunter education course or take part in the state’s trial hunting programme. You also need an extra hunting license for some species. Once you have a license that is in good standing, be careful to study and familiarize yourself with the rules in the hunting guidebook for the species you are after. Additionally, you must double-check your hunting permission to ensure that you are aware of the season, species, and hunting unit that apply to you.

The easiest way to avoid difficulties, is to examine the rules and properly verify your permission before you enter the field. It’s incredible how many hunters head out into the field without even opening their package to check the permission they received. They frequently don’t check their permits until after they’ve killed an animal, at which point they realize they were hunting in the incorrect unit, during the incorrect season, or maybe even for the incorrect species.

Make sure your fishing license is up to date if you’re planning a fishing excursion, and spend some time reading the fishing handbook to learn about the regulations for the water body you’ll be visiting. You should be aware of the species that must be released, the daily limits for each species, and the permitted bait at the body of water where you are fishing.

The DWR website has a wealth of information, including the Utah Hunting and Fishing app (which can electronically save your permits), maps of the hunting borders and popular fishing locations, and manuals that explain the state’s hunting and fishing restrictions.

Don’t trespass and ask for the appropriate authorization.

You must first obtain the landowner’s written consent in order to hunt on private property. Trespassing is illegal and punishable by penalties and a class B misdemeanor. On tribal properties located all around Utah, trespassing is also possible. Understand the limits of each hunting area you use, as well as who owns the land where you are hunting.

If you are granted permission to hunt on private property, exercise respect by closing any gates you open and refraining from modifying or cutting any fences in order to gain access to a location.

How to steer clear of other frequent mistakes.

When a hunter accidentally shoots the incorrect animal, it is another frequent blunder that DWR conservation officials run across. Making sure your target is clear before firing the shot is a fantastic method to avoid it.

If you aren’t completely certain and certain of your objective and what is beyond your target, including if there are highways or buildings nearby, it is advised against taking that shot. That will make it more difficult for you to kill a doe when you have a permit for a buck. Additionally, it can avert risky circumstances.

Additionally, bear in mind that an animal may not always fall immediately after being struck.

It is observed situations in which a shooter fired at one animal in the group but mistakenly believed they had missed. Five dead elk instead of one are found when they are done shooting. Before going out into the field, it’s crucial to educate yourself on these creatures and what you’re doing.

A disagreement between a hunter and a private landowner over a deer that was shot on public grounds but died on the landowner’s private property is another typical occurrence.

You need to be ready for that eventuality in advance if you want to hunt so near to the boundary that the animal may leap the fence or cross the boundary line. You can’t just enter that private land to get the deer, you know. You need to speak with the landowner right away to get permission to get the animal back, or call DWR law enforcement. If not, you are trespassing, which is against the law and could result in disputes with the landowner.

Conservation inspectors frequently encounter hunters who don’t properly tag their animals after they’ve been taken down. When tagging a big game animal, you must entirely remove the three notches on the tag that identify the animal’s sex and date of capture. You must also totally separate the tag from your large game permit. After that, fasten the tag to the animal such that it is both visible and securely affixed. It is forbidden to use the same tag to tag more than one animal or to remove more than one notch identifying the date or sex. Before you leave the region or before the animal is taken away from the location where it was harvested, the animal must be marked.

If you utilize an OHV during your hunt, keep in mind that the same regulations that forbid operating a standard vehicle while under the influence also apply to OHVs. The same severe punishments apply to operating an OHV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A driver’s license suspension, prison time, fines, and arrest are just examples of these sanctions.

When and how permits for hunting and fishing are suspended.

People can violate the law in several ways. Some people make errors. Others are opportunistic and will exploit a circumstance when hunting or fishing, even if they are aware that it is against the rules to do so. And some go into the field with the explicit intent to breach the law. In the majority of these situations, the offender will face criminal charges and be fined. However, a violation of the law must be done intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly for a hunting or fishing license to also be suspended.

It is strongly advise that you notify DWR law enforcement if you make a mistake while hunting or fishing,”. “Self-reporting decreases the possibility that your license will be suspended. We realize that individuals feel terrified or ashamed, but accepting responsibility right away demonstrates a lot of kindness and says a lot about you. Recognize your errors and follow the law.

Following is a summary of Utah’s recent suspensions of hunting and fishing licenses.

(2022: 54 license suspensions to date._
(2021: 55 license suspensions)
(2020: 41 license suspensions)
(2018: 88 license suspensions)
(2019: 84 license suspensions)
(2017: 83 license suspensions)

The Utah Legislature determines the duration of various suspensions based on the specified kind of offense. The suspension is for a year if the crime is deemed to be a class C misdemeanor. It takes three years for a class B. It lasts for five years for a class A misdemeanor and seven years for a felony. If your license was already suspended at the time of the offense or if it involved a prize animal, those suspension periods might be compounded.

The entire goal of wildlife law enforcement is to motivate individuals to follow the rules. “Those laws were created with the public and animals in mind. Everyone would simply follow the law so that suspensions wouldn’t be necessary. That is the aim.

An individual is informed and given the opportunity to request a hearing if an inquiry indicates that a crime fits the requirements for license suspension. On the first Tuesday of every month, these public hearings are held either electronically or in person at the Utah Department of Natural Resources facility in Salt Lake City. The DWR director appoints a hearing officer who reviews the case information and decides whether to suspend the hunting or fishing license. Within 30 days of the hearing officer’s order being made, a person may appeal the suspension to the Utah Wildlife Board if they disagree with it.

Before recommending a license suspension, it is also taken into account the facts and their prior history along with deciding if someone broke the law knowingly, willfully, or negligently.” “It is  also taken into account if the legislation has recently changed in the last 30 days.”

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact has Utah as a signatory state. Except for Hawaii, all other states in the United States accept license suspensions in Utah.

Be a law-abiding, moral hunter and fisherman.

Along with abiding by the law and ensuring your safety when hunting and fishing, it’s crucial to engage in responsible recreation. If you are in a car, always drive on open, authorized trails or roads; if you are driving an off-road vehicle (OHV), never ride off-trail. Before arriving there, be sure to examine road and trail maps and become familiar with the locations you’ll be riding in.

During the hunting seasons, “there is frequently an inflow of damage due to off-trail riding,”. People who bike off-trail endanger vital animal habitat. Off-trail riding may have a negative effect on popular hunting grounds since this environment is crucial for the success of animal survival. Simply sticking on certified open OHV routes can prevent this, preserving possibilities for hunting in the future.

Whether hunting or not, anybody who walks or camps in Utah’s outdoors should always leave a tidy campsite, completely put out any campfires, and take away any garbage or waste, including shot casings. Remember to treat other campers and hunters with the same respect and civility that you would want to be shown.

John Lewis

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