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Utah decreases number of general deer tags for 2021

Utah decreases number of general deer tags for 2021

Photo credit: Dreamstime

There will be fewer general deer tags available this season following an approved decrease in permits by the Utah Wildlife Board last week. The decrease is a result of drought and other environmental factors impacting herd health in Utah. In fact, the current estimate of 314,850 deer is below the state objective of 400,000 deer per the current management plan, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR). 

“We’ve had a few drought years in Utah recently, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer,” said UDWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones. “In Utah, we have the longest range-trend study in the Western U.S., and we’ve seen that having suitable habitat is crucial for maintaining or growing wildlife populations. And drought conditions can really negatively impact that habitat, which in turn affects our wildlife species.”

Because of this reduction in tags, there will only be 74,025 general season deer tags available for 2021, which is a decrease of 5,650 tags compared to 2020. Out of the 29 deer hunting units within Utah, 17 will be impacted by the decreased permit numbers. 

Per UDWR, here are the number of permits available for the 2021 big game hunting seasons:

Big game permit recommendations

Hunt 2020 2021
General-season buck deer 79,675 74,025
Premium limited-entry deer 184 184
Management buck deer (including "cactus" bucks) 64 45
Handgun, archery, muzzleloader, and
shotgun (HAMS) limited-entry buck deer hunts
15 15
Limited-entry deer 1,182 1,070
Doe deer 1,175 935
General any bull elk 15,000 17,500
General spike bull elk 15,000 15,000
Cow elk 8,060 8,285
Youth any bull elk 500 500
Limited-entry bull elk 2,948 2,990
Buck antelope 1,147 1,173
Doe antelope 525 404
Bull moose 107 112
Cow moose 31 15
Bison 97 146
Desert bighorn sheep 78 81
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep 65 67
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ewe hunt 10 10
Mountain goat 122 120

While there will be fewer general season deer tags, the state is adding some antlerless hunts for areas where deer damage agricultural land, specifically within Price and Oak City.

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

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