DWR checkpoint makes sure anglers comply with law
The crawdads were only innocent bystanders, but they had to be decapitated anyway.
That's because the driver of a car stopped at a Division of Wildlife Resources administrative checkpoint Saturday morning was illegally transporting live aquatic wildlife.
Officers found a few buckets of crawly creatures during a routine inspection of anglers leaving Scofield Reservoir. The driver got a ticket, and the chore of making the crayfish non-living aquatic wildlife fell to the boys with him.
"We had to show them how to pinch the heads off so they could keep the edible parts," explained DWR Sgt. Stacey Jones. First they had to round up the crayfish, which were making a break for freedom after the buckets were dumped in the parking lot. "There were crayfish all over the place," Jones said.
The incident may have had some humor attached - except for the citation - but the objective of the checkpoint was serious business. Utah has a big problem with predatory fish, mussels, crayfish and disease spreading into bodies of water where they could cause extensive damage, Jones said.
These invasive species can spread through such innocuous means as boat bilge water or overfilled livewells, in addition to intentional illegal stocking.
"The most important point we are trying to address is education about the movement of aquatic wildlife species and the damage it does to the resource when species are moved around the state," Jones explained.
The officers were also authorized to check for compliance with state laws on boat registrations, fishing licenses and possession limits.
Jones showed an authorization signed by Seventh District Court Judge George Harmond, a document much like a search warrant that spells out specifically what law enforcement officers may inspect. Records of the stops, infractions and citations have to be submitted to the judge after the checkpoint is closed.
Bad weather slowed the pace. In a little more than three hours, officers stopped only 23 vehicles, allowing 98 cars not containing anglers to pass. They checked 35 licenses and found only one case of an invalid license.
The sergeant said people by and large are not upset by the routine stop. That is, until someone is surprised to find out that he or she has violated the law.
Surprises can be avoided by following the rules in the fishing guidebook.