Big game 2021 proposals: Public comment period open

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. — Due to a smaller number of Utah deer than the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) considers a healthy wildlife population, DWR biologists recommend fewer general-season permits for the 2021 deer hunt. DWR is asking for the public’s feedback on the recommendation and various other big game proposals.

“We’ve had a few drought years in Utah recently, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer,” Covy Jones, DWR Big Game Coordinator, said. “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.” 

DWR biologists spend the year accessing the overall health of deer populations and also the previous year’s data from deer and elk hunting. That data helps create hunting permit recommendations for upcoming seasons. Currently, they estimate 314,850 deer in the state. Their objective for a healthy wildlife population is to have just over 400,000 deer. 

The recommendation is for a total of 74,775 general-season deer hunting permits, which is a 4,900-permit decrease from the previous year. 16 of the 29 deer hunting units have received the request for decreased permit numbers.

“The number of permits we’re proposing for 2021 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 biology and herd health of our wildlife come first when making hunting permit recommendations.” 

The DWR will also address other big game proposals include antlerless deer hunts, which aim to reduce the damage of private lands, handle urban deer issues, and manage chronic wasting disease hot spots.

The public meetings for the proposals will be online. DWR biologists’ presentations are found on the DWR YouTube Channel, and the public should share comments through the DWR website forms.

The public comment period is open now. Comments will be shared with the respective Regional Advisory Council and wildlife board members at each meeting. People can watch the live stream of the meeting, but comments won’t be accepted at these meetings. 

Northern Utah RAC meeting: April 7 at 6 p.m (Public comments must be submitted by April 2 at 11:59 p.m.)

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