Social Media Helps Utah Wildlife Officials Locate Poacher & Convicted Felon Kenneth Swenson Jr.

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Kenneth Swenson Jr. shows the head and antlers of a bull elk he stole from legal hunters during a family poaching spree in fall 2016. Photo from Utah Department of Wildlife Resources.

Conservation officers in Utah are sharing a case that ensued from over-sharing on social media that resulted in the identification, apprehension, and conviction of a mysterious poacher who turned out to be a felon.

According to an announcement  by the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources, the remarkable story began on September 23, 2016, after a DWR conservation officer in Roosevelt, Utah, received a tip on the state’s Turn-in-a-Poacher phone hotline that indicated that a convicted felon, Kenneth (Kenny) Swenson Jr., was poaching cow elk and pheasants in nearby Duchesne County.

Upon further investigation, DWR officers discovered that several other law enforcement agencies were also searching for a drug-dealing Swenson, who was responsible for the killing of many more animals.

Swenson was eventually arrested in December of 2016 and while he admitted to killing or assisting in the killing of three elk and two deer, he still refused to share where the antlers of the animals were located.

Fortunately, despite Swenson not having a current address, after extensive investigation, which included the discovery of a hint-filled video posted on social media of an excavation in his backyard, wildlife investigators located Swenson’s residence through the use of Facebook and Google Earth.

DWR officers subsequently seized nearly 50 firearms, many of them stolen, from an RV on Swenson’s property. The officers were also able to locate one set of elk antlers from the elk killed in Duchesne County and two sets of deer antlers from deer killed in the Book Cliffs. Officers also seized two deer hides and all big game meat as evidence from the Swenson residence.

Kenny Swenson pleaded guilty in Duchesne County on December 11, 2017, to two counts of Destruction of Protected Wildlife, both third-degree felonies. He was ordered to pay $16,000.00 dollars to the Help Stop Poaching fund and sentenced to five years in prison for each charge. He also lost all his hunting privileges for 28 years.

Swenson, who is currently in a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon, also still faces charges in Wasatch County, where he could be ordered to pay up to $8,000.00 in restitution and lose an additional 14 years of hunting privileges.

This man should be permanently locked up and never have the opportunity to hunt again for the rest of his life!

We appreciate that DWR took the opportunity to remind people that if they witness suspicious activity or any wildlife violations in the state, to call the Utah Turn-in-a-Poacher (UTiP) Hotline at 800-662-3337 or submit a report online. Tips can be made confidentially.

Please note that most states have similar programs and tip lines to report suspected incidents. Just as in this case, the information can be found by researching online.

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