Adult black bear population in Utah. Source: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
There are too many black bears in Utah. In fact, in 2016, the tally came in just under 3,500 bears, resulting in the recommendation to increase the number of black bear permits for the 2018 season. Last week, the Utah Wildlife Board approved the measure, which means that there will be “101 additional permits, increasing the total number of black bear tags to 859 to be issued in spring, summer and fall seasons,” the St. George News reports.
“The state’s bear population has been growing steadily since 1998, especially in the southeastern part of the state,” Darren DeBloois, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) game mammals coordinator, said during a public meeting last week.
UDWR anticipates that the increased opportunity will lead to about 400 bears harvested. 2016’s estimated head count of 3,500 bears does not include cubs or bears under the age of two in the tally, meaning the actual population is much higher; more bear tags will help the department manage the burgeoning population.
Based upon current black bear population hotspots, the additional tags will be distributed this way: 73 tags will be issued in units within southeast Utah, seven tags will be issued in areas like Panguitch Lake/Zion and Beaver units and 21 tags will be issued throughout central and northern Utah, according to the St. George News. While some suggested lengthening the seasons to increase opportunity, the board ultimately decided that season dates will remain unchanged.