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Utah DWR temporarily closes several wildlife management areas to recreational shooting

Donnie Fredrickson looks through the scope on his rifle as he works to sight in at the Lee Kay Shooting Range for the the up coming hunt. Photo by Scott G. Winterton / Deseret Morning News September 2005.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah–  The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is temporarily closing 17 of its wildlife management areas (WMAs) in central and northern Utah to recreational shooting due to wildfire concerns. 

In a statement on Monday, DWR said hot and dry weather conditions prompted the decision to prohibit the shooting of firearms in WMAs. 

As of Wednesday, Utah Fire Info reports 712 state fires were human-caused. That’s 333 more fires reported in 2019 and 202 more reported in 2018 at the same time in the summer wildfire season.

 

Protecting wildlife around Utah 

One of the main reasons DWR is closing WMAs to shooting is to protect wildlife in the areas.

“Wildfires destroy essential wildlife habitat, and wildlife management areas are vital to providing important wintering ranges for many wildlife species, including big game,” the division said. “A lot of resources go toward improving habitat in these wildlife and waterfowl management areas, which is why it is important to take measures to prevent wildfires.” 

DWR mentioned the temporary restrictions comes less than a week after target shooting at the Richmond WMA in Cache County ignited a fire that burned two acres of wildlife habitat. The Big Hollow Fire is also expected to be caused by a bullet ricochet, burning more than 400 acres, including DWR’s Wallsburg WMA. 

“With the dry conditions, any spark can start a fire,” said Scott Walker, DWR northern region habitat manager. “With firearm target shooting, sparks from metal targets aren’t the only threat — a bullet or other projectile glancing off a rock is all it takes to cause a spark and a fire.” 

Additionally,28 wildfires have been caused by recreational shooting so far this season, costing nearly $1 million to taxpayers. 

WMAs closed to recreational shooting 

Effective immediately and until fire conditions improve, target shooting with firearms is not allowed anywhere on the following WMAs:

 Box Elder County

  • Coldwater WMA
  • Brigham Face WMA

 Cache County

  • Richmond WMA
  • Millville / Providence WMA

 Morgan County

  • East Canyon WMA

Sanpete County

  • White Hill WMA
  • Black Hill WMA
  • Six Mile WMA
  • Twelve Mile WMA

 Summit County

  • Henefer / Echo WMA
  • Kamas WMA

Utah County

  • Santaquin WMA
  • Dairy Fork WMA
  • Lassen Draw WMA
  • Spencer Fork WMA

Wasatch County

  • Wallsburg WMA

 Weber County

  • Middle Fork WMA

DWR conservation officers are enforcing the temporary restrictions at these WMAs. Visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes open and report any campfires or firearm shootings to the UTIP hotline at 1-800-662-DEER (3336). 

For those who would still like to target shoot, DWR has two shooting ranges open to the public.