Wildlife officers in Ogden, Utah used a GPS tracker to monitor the activities of bobcat trapper and accused poacher Jared Beal, who went to approximately 35 trap sites between November 2007 and January 2008. The evidence acquired from tracking his vehicle was enough to bring him to court. Beal now must face 12 counts of wanton destruction of protected bobcat wildlife, with half of those as felony counts, and each counts signifying that several bobcats were caught and killed illegally. Overall 31 bobcat pelts were found in Beal’s possession when he was arrested in January 2008, far over the legal permit limit of six.
Beal has recently attempted an appeal to have the Utah Court of Appeals get rid of the GPS tracking evidence on the basis that the action of putting the device on his private vehicle was invasive and unreasonable. In Utah only an “authorization” from a judge is mandatory to track a private vehicle. No search warrant, or probable cause a criminal activity has occurred, is required. The Utah Court of Appeals have denied this appeal because attaching a GPS tracking device to a private vehicle is “not very intrusive, which is why we don’t even need probable cause in getting a judge’s authorization,” said Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward.
GPS tracking technology makes it possible for police to covertly monitor criminal activity without having to have police officials physically follow someone, putting them in potentially risky situations. It also continues to prove to be a reliable source of evidence when trying to convict alleged criminals.