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Hunters looking for elk in Utah find pot farm instead

September 17, 2009 | 12:52 pm

Pot

Two Utah bow-hunters out looking for elk found an illegal marijuana farm instead, reports the Deseret News.

The unidentified hunters were hiking through an area of Morgan County in northern Utah last week when they came upon the field of marijuana plants. They contacted the police as well as the owner of the private land on which they had permission to hunt.

Agents from the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration removed 1,238 plants. Officials estimated the harvest value to be worth more than $1.4 million.

"I would estimate that it's been in operation for at least a couple years," said Narcotics Strike Force Lt. Darin Parke. "We don't have any suspects at this time. The [land] owner isn't a suspect; he didn't know anything about it."

The Strike Force gave the hunters a reward of $1,238 -- $1 for each plant found -- in an effort to encourage those who find marijuana growing sites to call them in.

Though not the largest marijuana crop discovered in the state, it is the third one uncovered in the last few weeks. On Aug. 26, officials eradicated a field of plants in Tooele County estimated to be worth about $9 million and a few days later discovered another field of 20,000 plants in Wayne County with street value estimated to be between $25 million and $60 million.

California has also experienced an increase in the number of marijuana farms found recently. Within the last month, Outposts has reported on crops discovered in Mono County and Yosemite National Park. Some DEA officials believe the rise in local marijuana cultivation is due to growing pressure on drug traffickers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

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