OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Deer hunting permits may see decrease this year

Mar 24, 2022, 12:47 PM

buck deer shown --SALT LAKE CITY -- From Saturday until Oct. 29, Utah hunters with the necessary pe...

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

(Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources proposed a decrease of general-season deer hunting permits this year. This is the fourth year in a row that the DWR recommends a decrease.

Deer hunting permits

The division tracks wildlife populations through GPS collars, surveys, and looking at the last year’s harvest data. That information about wildlife is used to inform the number of permits that will go out each year.

The DWR said it recommended a smaller amount of permits because the demand for deer hunting is higher than the supply. The DWR’s management plan for deer sets the deer population goal at 400,000 but, the DWR said, the current population is 305,700.

“We’ve had several years of drought and are still facing ongoing extreme drought conditions in the state, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer,” DWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones said. “We use the data and management plans to make proactive recommendations for the herd health of our wildlife.”

Jones noted that antlerless deer permits impact the deer population, not buck permits, but that the DWR still recommends decreasing both.

Biologists for the DWR recommend 73,075 general-season deer hunting permits, which is 950 less than last year. The DWR said 13 of the 29 deer hunting units would be affected by the decrease.

“The number of permits we’re proposing for 2022 will help us achieve or maintain the objectives detailed in Utah’s mule deer management plan for harvest size, animal quality, and hunting opportunity,” Jones said.

The DWR is also proposing adding hunts; one for antlerless deer, five for antlerless elk, and one new doe pronghorn hunt.

Other permits

The DWR said that elk are affected differently by drought conditions; adults have a higher survival rate but pregnancy rates can decline.

Elk populations in the northern area of the state have increased slightly since they were not as affected by drought. Those populations are largely on private land, so the DWR said it would work with private landowners to address the elk. 

Aside from the northern area, elk populations across the state are at or slightly below the DWR’s population goal. Because of this, the DWR recommends a slight decrease in public draw antlerless elk permits.

The DWR proposed 1,307 antlerless permits for 69 Cooperative Wildlife Management Units. CWMUs are permits given to private landowners who then open their land to hunting opportunities for private and public hunters. 

The division said it was seeking feedback from the public on the number of big-game hunting permits that should go out this year.

There are five Regional Advisory Councils in Utah. Members of the public can attend the RAC meeting for the region they are involved in. A list of meetings and an online form are available on DWR’s website for those wanting to give feedback.

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Deer hunting permits may see decrease this year