Utah asks for public feedback on 2019 big game hunts
Healthy herds equal more permits for several big game species in Utah. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) has proposed several changes for the 2019 big game hunts and, now, it’s time for the public to comment. One of the main changes for the upcoming season is the proposed increase in opportunity for doe deer and buck and doe antelope thanks to strong populations of both across the state.
“There is always an opportunity vs. quality debate when it comes to managing wildlife, but for us, biology and the health of the herd always come first,” said Covy Jones, UDWR big game coordinator. “As a result, plans are an essential part of effective wildlife management.”
According to UDWR biologists, there were approximately 372,500 deer in the state as of 2018, which shows a slight population increase.
“The increase was primarily due to the growth of deer populations in the central and northern portions of the state,” said Jones. “The total statewide deer population increased by about 8,850 animals.”
Antelope are also faring well thanks to the state’s management plan, which was revised in the fall of 2017. State biologist want to add 115 doe antelope permits—and several more doe antelope hunts—and 180 more buck antelope permits to the 2019. The increased buck permits are a result of poor survival rates for older animals (according to the agency—less than 80%). This is the second consecutive year that UDWR has increased buck antelope permits.
“Due to the lower survival rates and because most of their horn growth occurs by two years of age, it doesn't make sense to manage for older animals,” said Jones. “Now that we are managing for younger animals, we can offer more hunting opportunities this fall, while still providing a quality opportunity for hunters.”
UDWR is also proposing some new hunts to help manage doe deer, cow elk and doe antelope populations: five new doe deer hunts “to help address declining range conditions in certain parts of the state and to help reduce deer depredation on private lands” along with 18 new cow elk hunts and eight new doe antelope hunts.
Here’s a breakdown of permit changes for the 2019 big game season:
Permit changes for 2019
|General-season buck deer||90,650||90,450|
|Premium limited-entry deer||184||184|
|Management buck deer (including "cactus" buck)||71||74|
|General any bull elk||15,000||15,000|
|General spike bull elk||15,000||15,000|
|Youth any bull elk||500||500|
|Limited-entry bull elk||2,876||2,951|
|Bison (archery only)||20||21|
|Desert bighorn sheep||56||69|
|Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep||39||56|
If you want to comment on the proposed changes, you can email your Regional Advisory Council member or attend one of the meeting scheduled in April. Email address for RAC members can be found here. Public meetings will be held as follows:
- Central Region: April 9 at 6 p.m. at the Public Library at 45 S. Main St. in Springville
- Northern Region: April 10 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission building at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden
- Southern Region: April 16 at 5 p.m. at Beaver High School at 195 E. Center St. in Beaver
- Southeastern Region: April 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main St. in Green River
- Northeastern Region: April 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the DWR Northeastern Region Office at 318 N. Vernal Ave. in Vernal