Elk NetworkUtah Creates New App for Reporting ‘Deadheads’

General | May 18, 2023

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

In an effort to increase efficiency and improve responsiveness to the public, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recently released a new app that allows people to quickly report the skulls of big game animals that still have their antlers or horns attached.

Collecting the shed antlers of deer, elk and other big game animals is a popular pastime for many Utahns. However, sometimes people find horns and antlers that are still attached to the skull of the animal that died (often referred to as “deadheads”). In these situations, it is illegal to pick up the animal parts without a possession license. Sometimes, these animals have been illegally killed, and conservation officers need the animal as evidence to investigate the crime. However, if it’s determined that the animal died of natural causes or other non-suspicious circumstances, officers will often let the person who reported the find keep the antlers.

“We get a lot of calls and tips about deadheads, and our officers spend a significant amount of time investigating these reports to see if the animal was poached,” DWR Investigations Capt. Wade Hovinga said. “Often, these animals are difficult to access, and it takes time to get to the area and to obtain the location details from the reporting party. This new app will help people quickly report these deadheads and include all the necessary information, which will make it more efficient to investigate these cases.”

A person who finds antlers or horns attached to a skull will be able to submit that report via the “Utah Deadhead Reporter” app, available on both iPhone and Android devices. People will need their DWR customer ID number to begin the report. Then, following the prompts, they can submit a GPS location of the skull, photos of the animal and surrounding scene, and other important details for investigators. That information will help officers more quickly determine if the animal was poached or not, which will speed up the process of being able to grant a possession license so the person who found it can keep the antlers.

The app must be downloaded and installed while you have an internet connection or cell phone service. But once you download it, you will be able to fill out a report on the app even without cell phone service. Instructions for downloading the Utah Deadhead Reporter app and submitting a deadhead report can be found on the DWR website.

Roadkill animals should still be reported through the Utah Roadkill Reporter app. If someone finds an animal that appears to have been killed illegally, they should still report it in one of the following ways (rather than through the Utah Deadhead Reporter app):

“We know some areas of the state saw increased winter kill of deer and some elk, due to the extreme snow conditions this year, and we are hopeful that this app will reduce some of the investigation and processing time for people who are interested in keeping those deadhead antlers they may find this spring,” Hovinga said.

(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)