Deer licenses may decline this year
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has proposed a decrease in general-season deer hunting permits this year. This is the fourth year in a row that the DWR has recommended a decrease.
Deer hunting license
The division tracks wildlife populations through GPS collars, surveys and by reviewing last year’s harvest data. This wildlife information is used to inform the number of permits that will be issued each year.
The DWR said it is recommending fewer permits because the demand for deer hunting is greater than the supply. The DWR management plan for deer sets the deer population target at 400,000 but according to the DWR the current population is 305,700.
“We’ve had several drought years and are still experiencing extreme drought conditions across the state, which is having a significant impact on deer survival rates,” said Covy Jones, DWR Big Game Coordinator. “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 deer population, not buck permits, but DWR still recommends reducing both.
DWR biologists recommend 73,075 general-season deer licenses, down 950 from last year. The DWR said 13 of 29 deer hunting units would be affected by the decrease.
“The number of permits we are proposing for 2022 will help us meet or maintain the goals detailed in the Utah Mule Deer Management Plan regarding harvest size, animal quality, and hunting opportunities,” said Jones.
The DWR also offers to add flushes; one for antlerless deer, five for antlerless elk, and a new doe antelope hunt.
The DWR said elk are affected differently by drought conditions; adults have a higher survival rate, but pregnancy rates may decrease.
Elk populations in the northern area of the state have increased slightly as they have not been as affected by the drought. These populations are largely on private land, so the DWR said it will work with private landowners to control elk.
Aside from the North Zone, elk populations across the state are at or slightly below the DWR population goal. For this reason, the DWR recommends a slight decrease in elk licenses without public antlers.
The DWR has offered 1,307 timber-free permits for 69 cooperative wildlife management units. CWMUs are permits given to private landowners who then open up their land to hunting opportunities for both private and public hunters.
The division said it is seeking public comment on the number of big game licenses expected to come out this year.
There are five Regional Advisory Councils in Utah. Members of the public may attend the CCR meeting of the region in which they are involved. A list of meetings and an online form are available on the DWR website for those wishing to provide feedback.