Stiff fines the result of knowingly breaking fishing and hunting laws

Breaks sometimes given for mistakes

MORGAN - Two Salt Lake County anglers recently learned the hard way that fishing methods in their native country aren't legal in Utah.

Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers Keith Fullencamp and Jonathan Moser discovered the two men fishing with a home-made spear gun at East Canyon Reservoir south of Morgan.

Underwater spearfishing is allowed at a few waters in Utah, but spearfishing is not allowed at East Canyon.

It appeared that the two men made the spearfishing mistake unknowingly. However, they did know that they had taken an over-limit of fish. And one of the two anglers did not have a fishing license.

The Class A misdemeanor charges they were cited with could result in a fine of $2,500. They might also be fined $25 for each fish they took over the limit. And they could lose their hunting and fishing privileges in Utah for several years.

It's happening more often

Wildlife officers are seeing situations like the one at East Canyon more often as Utah's population grows. Many people come from countries where fishing and hunting are not regulated, and they break Utah's hunting and fishing rules unknowingly.

For these unintentional mistakes, officers often give warnings or issue citations for lesser offenses that will result in the lowest possible fine.

At the other end of the spectrum are anglers and hunters who break wildlife laws knowingly. Some have the mindset that they'll break the rules and get away with it. Others may not go afield intending to break the law, but once they're in the field they're tempted to take an over-limit of fish or shoot ducks after shooting hours. Others simply give in to peer pressure from other anglers and hunters.

When officers determine that people knew they were breaking the law, they often cite the offender with a Class B or A misdemeanor. Sometimes, the offender is even cited with a felony.