New mule deer plan approved in Utah

New mule deer plan approved in Utah

Photo credit: Jim Shuler of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

A new mule deer management plan is in place for Utah that will continue through 2024. The plan, which was approved by the Utah Wildlife Board last week, focuses on maintaining a “healthy deer population across the state” while also keeping the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in check. 

According to KSL.com, the newly approved plan calls for the following:

  • Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) biologists will make target deer population recommendations each year, which will allow for “more fluctuation” of the number of available buck hunting permits. 
  • To do this, UDWR biologists will monitor heard health and range conditions to keep each unit’s population objective “realistic and attainable.”
  • There will be an evaluation of areas for “new extended archery hunt units and new handgun, archery, muzzleloader and shotgun permits to expand hunting opportunities.”
  • UDWR will continue the general season ratio of bucks to does, noting that the ratio varies between units throughout the state.
  • With regard to CWD, any deer or elk harvested within a CWD-positive state can be important only if it has “a skull free of brain matter.”

According to UDWR big game coordinator Covy Jones, they’re “looking for more consistency in managing deer across the state since a decision in one region could impact hunting for everyone in Utah.” While the mule deer population has been fairly steady over the past few years, in 2019, biologists noticed a bit of a drop.

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“Where we really struggle to manage mule deer is when they’re on their way up and catching them before they get to a carrying capacity and a major crash,” said Jones. “That’s something we want to start to do in this plan.”

While there are no changes to hunting season lengths, there are changes to how permits are drawn. 

According to KSL.com, these changes include the following: 

  • The waiting period for limit-entry buck deer will be increased from two to five years.
  • The end of a permit quota allocated to youth or individuals 65 or older.
  • A hunter that surrenders their permit(s) at least 30 days before the season opens will lose bonus/preference points.
  • Hunters who accept a reallocated permit for the species they had a permit for will receive a refund for their general-season permit and have all preference points reinstated.
  • Hunters will forfeit preference points for “almost any over-the-counter permit purchase.”

For the complete mule deer plan, click HERE.

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