UDWR proposes fewer general season permits for 2020 deer

UDWR proposes fewer general season permits for 2020 deer

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This fall there will likely be fewer deer permits for general season in Utah. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) biologists made the recommendation because general deer populations have dropped throughout the state due to drought and chronic wasting disease (CWD), according to the agency. Therefore, UDWR is recommending only 80,725 general season permits for 2020 deer (a decrease of 9,175 permits) and 1,175 antlerless deer permits (a decrease of 1,045 permits compared to 2019). 

This change would impact 19 of the 29 general season units across the state.

“In 2019, the statewide deer population estimate decreased by approximately 51,000 animals to a total of just over 321,000 deer,” said UDWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones. “This decrease was primarily due to drought conditions in the spring, summer and fall of 2018, followed by a heavy winter in 2019. Deer populations in areas of the southern, southeastern, northeastern and northern parts of the state showed the most loss.”

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In December, the Utah Wildlife Board approved the current mule deer management plan. That plan focuses on an objective of 18 to 20 bucks per 100 does in 18 general season hunting units and an objective of 15 to 17 bucks per 100 does for the remaining 11 general season hunting units, according to UDWR. The proposed permit changes would help the state better meet this objective. 

Further, to help combat CWD, there will be one new additional doe deer hunt.

“Antlerless deer hunts are designed to reduce depredation on private lands, tackle urban deer issues, address chronic wasting disease hotspots and help slow the decline of range conditions,” said Jones.

Unfortunately, elk populations are also lower than they were in 2019, resulting in the possibility of fewer cow elk permits. UDWR has made recommendations for only 8,165 cow elk permits (down 1,470 from 2019).

UDWR is collecting public feedback on these proposed changes. To submit a comment, click here.

Per UDWR, here’s a breakdown of how the permit numbers could change for 2020 big game hunts:




General-season buck deer 89,900 80,725
Premium limited-entry deer 184 184
Management buck deer (including "cactus" buck) 74 74
New handgun, archery, muzzleloader, and
shotgun (HAMS) limited-entry buck deer hunts
Hunt didn't exist 15
Limited-entry deer 1,144 1,229
Doe deer 2,220 1,175
General any bull elk 15,000 15,000
General spike bull elk 15,000 15,000
Cow elk 9,635 8,165
Youth any bull elk 500 500
Limited-entry bull elk 2,938 2,943
Buck pronghorn 1,061 1,147
Doe pronghorn 760 525
Bull moose 97 107
Cow moose 38 31
Bison 242 115
Desert bighorn sheep 69 82
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep 56 66
New Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ewe hunt Hunt didn't exist 10
Mountain goat 126 122


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