Increasing fishing violations concern Utah officers

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June 28, 2002

Utah DWR

Increasing fishing violations concern officers

Vernal — Increasing numbers of certain fishing violations are creating concerns for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR). Conservation officers for the UDWR have noted that some violations are becoming more frequent.

"We are concerned that some fishing violations are becoming more prevalent," said Dan Barnhurst, UDWR conservation officer. "These violations include: over limits and the illegal transportation of live fish and crayfish (crawdads)."

Anglers need to check the regulations in the 2002 Utah Fishing Proclamation & Information publication before they go fishing.

"The statewide trout limit is now four," Barnhurst said. "Also there are many waters with special regulations and anglers should check the "Provisions for Specific Waters" section for each new water they fish. We also encourage anglers that fish numerous waters to check more often as regulations may be different for those waters.

"For example, one common mistake is violating size restrictions," he said. "The bass limit for both Steinaker and Cottonwood reservoirs is six but only one may be over 15 inches on Steinaker and only one may be over 12 inches at Cottonwood. Another example is the special regulation at Pelican Lake. The statewide bluegill limit is 50. However, at Pelican the bluegill limit is 10 fish."

Transporting live fish and crayfish is also becoming more frequent.

"A common violation with the potential for some very serious consequences is the transportation of live fish or crayfish away from the water where they were caught," Barnhurst said. "With the increasing popularity of boats with aerated live wells, we've seen an increase in the number of people transporting live fish. While most anglers are merely keeping their fish fresh until they get home, others transport fish to make illegal transplants to other waters."

While it could cost the angler steep fines, loss of fishing privileges, and possible forfeiture of fishing equipment and boats, the total costs are much greater.

"This serious violation has cost Utahns millions of dollars," Barnhurst explained. "We've (UDWR) had to treat waters to remove the unwanted fish and restock with fish better suited for the management of each water."

Besides the treatment costs, local businesses have lost millions when waters are no longer productive fisheries and anglers go elsewhere to fish.

Not all illegal transplants are intentional. "Another serious violation occurs when small fish or crawdads are caught on one water and moved alive to another water to use as bait," Barnhurst said.

Problems occur when the bait either gets loose or when anglers dump leftovers into the waters, thinking they are just providing more forage. Sometimes these baitfish can escape predation and begin breeding, resulting in a new, unwanted fish population entering the system.

"Remember, the use of live fish for bait is illegal and transporting any live fish or crawdad is a violation we (the UDWR) will enforce strictly," Barnhurst said. "To avoid problems, all live-wells should be drained and the fish or crayfish killed and put on ice before leaving the water where the fish are caught. Draining these live-wells will also help prevent the spread of diseases and other unwanted critters such as whirling disease, New Zealand mud snails and zebra mussels."

Barnhurst said the Division has a rewards program for citizens who report information that leads to a conviction and he encourages citizens to report violations.

"We (conservation officers) need all the help we can get," Barnhurst said. "We love to pay the rewards to those that provide the information that leads to a successful prosecution of poachers for any wildlife species. The Help Stop Poaching Hotline is 1-800-662- DEER (3337)."
 

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