Wanton Destruction of Wildlife in Utah and Its Penalties
One of the things to keep in mind about Utah wildlife law is that all wildlife is protected in Utah except for coyotes, field mice, gophers, ground squirrels, jack rabbits, muskrats, and raccoons. Every other crustacean, mollusk, and vertebrate animal living in nature except feral animals are protected and if you kill them you can be charged with wanton destruction of wildlife.
The wanton destruction of wildlife in Utah includes a number of different offenses including importing or exporting wildlife; using wildlife in commercial ventures; polluting waters; possessing or transporting live aquatic wildlife; killing more than one of the same big game species a year; purchasing, transporting, selling, or taking wildlife without a license; and, holding protected wildlife in captivity. Additionally, the wanton destruction of wildlife includes capturing, injuring, or destroying protected wildlife intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; or, intentionally abandoning protected wildlife or a carcass; or, doing so at night with a weapon; or doing so after having one’s license revoked, or doing so to financial gain. See Utah Code 23-20-4.
A lot of individuals who are charged with wanton destruction of wildlife are those who are involved in the black market of buying and selling wildlife and wildlife byproducts. Many others are those who kill wildlife and then abandon the kill. Perhaps the most prevalent type of case involves an unlicensed hunter who makes a kill.
Consequences of of A Wanton Destruction Conviction
Wanton destruction of wildlife can range anywhere from a misdemeanor to a third degree felony, depending on what type of animal was involved and what the value of the animal was. Additionally, very steep fines — more so than attach to other crimes — are imposed. Other penalties may apply as well, but in our experience we have seen judges be much harsher on those convicted of this type of crime than even violent crimes committed against humans. Thus, protect yourself with our experienced Criminal Defense lawyers who are some of the most experienced in the State in defending individuals against these types of offenses.
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