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Teens sentenced in southeastern Utah poaching case

One of the deer involved in the poaching case in San Juan County.

The Seventh District Court and Seventh District Juvenile Court in Monticello handed down penalties to five local teenagers for poaching deer. All were found guilty of wanton destruction of protected wildlife during a two-month killing spree.

In December 2005, Utah Division of Wildlife Officer Chris Rhea received a report about the poaching of a number of deer from a concerned citizen. Critical information received from the caller allowed Officer Rhea to locate a number of deer carcasses and identify five suspects.

During the investigation, Officer Rhea found that five teens from the Monticello area reportedly shot and killed at least five deer with the use of a spotlight during November and December. The remains of four bucks and a doe were found. All were left to waste. Other deer were also apparently shot, but didn't die immediately and were not recovered during the investigation.

Each teen suspect pled guilty to charges filed in the case. The court sentenced the five individuals to 16 class A and 11 class B misdemeanors. Combined restitution and fines amounted to $17, 465 with a combined jail time of 23 months. The court suspended some of the jail time.

During the investigation, the mother of one suspect allegedly hid the weapons used in the incident. She was charged with evidence tampering and subsequently pled guilty to a class A misdemeanor. She was fined $925 and sentenced to 36 months probation.

In addition to the monetary penalty and detention, the five teens will be subject to the possibility of many years of hunting privilege revocation.

This case was made possible by a single individual who stepped forward to report the crime to authorities. Citizens who witness a wildlife violation should call their public safety dispatcher or the "Help Stop Poaching Hotline" at: 1-800-662-DEER.

Rewards are available for information leading to arrests in poaching cases. Wildlife is a heritage, enjoyed by and belonging to everyone. Citizens should not allow themselves to be victimized by the lawless actions of a very small minority.

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