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Poaching "trophy" animals in Utah can have significant consequences

While the penalties in Utah can be quite severe for anyone who harms protected wildlife, the penalties for poaching "trophy" animals is even more so.
 
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    January 07, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Poaching "trophy" animals in Utah can have significant consequences

Article provided by Greg Smith and Associates
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http://www.bestfishandgamelawyer.com

When it comes to the conservation of wildlife in Utah, the laws are quite comprehensive. In fact, with the exception of only a handful of animals - such as field mice, muskrats, gophers and raccoons - Utah law provides various protections for all "animals living in nature." And, while the penalties in Utah can be quite severe for anyone who harms protected wildlife, the penalties for poaching "trophy" animals is even more so.
Wanton destruction of protected wildlife

Under state law, a person may be charged with the wanton destruction of protected wildlife in Utah if he or she kills, captures, or otherwise harms a protected animal while poaching. Typically, the wanton destruction of protected wildlife also involves accusations that a hunter committed the offense at night with a weapon, intentionally left the animal carcass, was hunting with a revoked license, or poached the animal for financial gain.

Additionally, if the animal involved in an alleged poaching violation is considered a "trophy" animal under Utah law, a conviction for the wanton destruction of protected wildlife will automatically be punishable as a third degree felony - which can result in a possible fine of $5,000 and up to five years in jail.

Importantly, there are several animals classified as "trophy" animals in Utah, including:
-A buck deer with an antler spread of 24 inches or greater
-A bull elk with six points on at least one side
-A bull bison
-A bighorn, rocky mountain, or desert sheep, so long as it is a ram with a curl exceeding half curl
-A bull moose with at least one antler larger than five inches
-A buck pronghorn antelope with horns exceeding 14 inches
-A mountain goat

In addition to possible jail time and other fines, Utah law calls for restitution fines to be paid by convicted poachers - restitution fines that increase significantly for hunters convicted of the wanton destruction of protected trophy animals. For instance, while the poaching of a bison can often result in a restitution fine of $1,000, a conviction for the wanton destruction of a bull bison (a trophy animal) can lead to a restitution fine of $6,000. Similarly, the restitution fines for the wanton destruction of the remaining protected trophy animals listed above include:
-$8,000 for deer
-$8,000 for elk
-$30,000 for bighorn, rocky mountain, or desert sheep
-$6,000 for moose or mountain goat
-$2,000 for pronghorn antelope

As demonstrated by the penalties listed above, the consequences of poaching convictions in Utah can be quite harsh. Accordingly, if you are currently facing poaching charges, especially charges related to the wanton destruction of protected wildlife, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney can review the circumstances of your arrest and help determine your rights and options given your situation.



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