UTAH – Open hunting season is still several weeks away, but wildlife biologists have been monitoring big game for weeks. On Wednesday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources put together their recommendations for the number of 2013 permits.
Wildlife biologists recommend a decrease in the number of general buck deer hunting permits, from 86,500 in 2012 to 84,600 this fall. They also recommend decreasing the number of limited-entry buck deer permits from 967 in 2012 to 860 this year. Cow elk and buck pronghorn permits are recommended to increase.
DWR says it’s a balancing act to determine how many permits to recommend.
"What we do is go and do surveys after the season is over and see how many bucks we have per 100 does left," says DWR Big Game Coordinator Anis Aoude. “If that number, on a 3 year average, is below the objective...we reduce permits."
DWR says overall the mule deer population in Utah appears to be growing. The goal of their recommendation, and in turn the permit process, is to maintain a healthy population for each species while still giving people a chance to hunt. It’s careful monitoring some hunters says is just part of the process.
If that’s what their biologists deem necessary to keep our herds viable and doing what they need to do to, I’m agreeable to that,” says hunter Jeff Truek.
But others are critical of the numbers game. In Southern Utah there’s a recommended increase in the number of deer permits. Some say that creates an unfair lottery for that portion of the state when units are divided so broadly.
“My wife did hunters ed three years ago and this is her third year,” says hunter Josh Corbin. “She can’t get a tag. And they’re going to reduce that number, but they’re going to keep the same size units? Doesn’t make sense to me.”
The DWR’s recommendations are just one step in the permit process. A number of public meetings will be held throughout April to gather public comment. DWR will decide the final number of permits in May.
Public meeting date and times:
Beaver High School
195 E Center St.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E Main ST
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N. Vernal Ave.
Springville Public Library Meeting Room
45 S. Main St.
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W.