SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. — Due to extreme drought and wildfire danger, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is temporarily banning campfires and recreational target shooting with a firearm on its 146 wildlife management areas (WMAs) across the state.
Wildlife management areas help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property and are vital to providing important winter ranges and feeding grounds for many wildlife species, including big game. These lands are purchased and managed using the money generated by fishing and hunting license sales. Because wildfires can destroy essential wildlife habitats, this temporary ban will protect Utah’s wildlife management areas.
“Significant resources go toward improving the habitat in these wildlife and waterfowl management areas to make them more beneficial for a variety of wildlife species, which is why these proactive, preventative measures are so important,” DWR Director Rory Reynolds said. “Protecting these resources from wildfire is crucial for wildlife and is a huge benefit for anglers, hunters, and other wildlife enthusiasts who utilize these properties.”
Effective immediately and until fire conditions improve, target shooting with firearms is not allowed on any WMAs, except for in the established shooting range areas on the following three WMAs:
- Big Hollow WMA
- Fillmore WMA
- Hobble Creek WMA
The temporary restriction only applies to target shooting with a firearm on the WMAs — legal possession of a firearm and hunting are not affected.
Campfires of any kind, including portable fire pits, are not allowed on any of the WMAs during the temporary ban. Fireworks and explosives are never allowed on any WMA in Utah.
Gov. Spencer Cox issued three executive orders this year declaring a state of emergency due to drought conditions and issuing a ban on fireworks on state lands. As of June 9, there had been 330 wildfires across the state, 284 of which were human-caused. The DWR’s temporary ban is being issued in an effort to decrease the risk of wildfires being started.
“With the extreme dry conditions, any spark can start a fire,” DWR Habitat Section Chief Eric Edgley said. “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. Last year, two large wildfires on WMAs burned several hundred acres of wildlife habitat and were started by target shooting with firearms. Obviously, campfires and fireworks also create sparks that can cause wildfires.”
DWR conservation officers will be enforcing the temporary restrictions at WMAs statewide. Visitors to the areas are encouraged to keep their eyes open and to report any campfires, fireworks, or any firearm target shooting by calling the UTIP hotline at 1-800-662-DEER (3336), submitting through the UTDWR Law Enforcement app, or by texting 847411.
The campfire and firearm target shooting restrictions are temporary and will be evaluated throughout the fire season. During the temporary restrictions on recreational firearm target shooting, Utahns still have several options available for target shooting. DWR has two public shooting ranges — Lee Kay and Cache Valley — and there are a variety of public and private indoor and outdoor shooting ranges throughout Utah. Find your nearest shooting range by visiting the DWR website.
Statewide fire restriction information and wildfire prevention tips can be found on Utahfireinfo.gov.