Limited Entry Elk Permits Increase 30%

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Archery and muzzleloader limited entry elk hunters will have a better chance of drawing a permit after the Utah Wildlife Board approved a 30 percent increase in the number of limited entry elk permits available for hunts in Utah this fall.

Board members approved the permits at their meeting April 1 in Salt Lake City. The board, which consists of seven citizens appointed by former Gov. Mike Leavitt, approved the permits after hearing recommendations from Division of Wildlife Resources biologists, citizens representing Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils and members of the public who attended the meeting.

Bull elk permit Increase

A total of 1,269 limited entry elk permits will be available for this fall's hunts, a 30 percent increase from the 966 available last year. The additional permits will be for archery and muzzleloader hunts.

"Last fall, the board voted to eliminate a special AR-301 archery elk hunt," said Jim Karpowitz, big game coordinator for the DWR. "Eliminating that hunt freed up some permits that could go to limited entry elk hunters."

The board also voted last fall to distribute limited entry elk permits the same way among all units, with 25 percent of the permits on every unit going to archery hunters, 60 percent to rifle hunters and 15 percent to muzzleloader hunters. "In the past, many of the permits went to rifle hunters," he said. "Distributing the permits the same way across all units has reduced the number of rifle permits slightly but has increased the number of archery and muzzleloader permits."

Karpowitz says distributing permits this way should benefit all limited entry elk hunters, including rifle hunters. "Because archery and muzzleloader hunters take fewer animals, the number of bulls in the herds should increase, and that should result in more elk permits in future years," he said. "Spreading hunters more evenly over three hunts will also reduce pressure during the rifle hunt and provide rifle hunters a better hunting experience."

Karpowitz says many of Utah's elk units have bulls on them that are older than the age class objectives for the units. "That also allowed us to recommend more permits this year," he said.

Buck deer permit numbers

While limited entry elk permits numbers were increased for this fall, limited entry deer permits were reduced by about 10 percent from last year. The board approved 937 limited entry deer permits for 2004. "The newest deer management plan for the state calls for a 25 to 35 bucks per 100 does ratio on limited entry deer units, and most of the units are not meeting that objective," Karpowitz said.

The number of general season buck deer permits will remain at 97,000. "On a region-wide basis, all five regions are meeting the minimum objective of 15 bucks per 100 does," he said.

Other big game permit numbers

The number of pronghorn, moose and Rocky Mountain goat permits for this fall is up slightly from the number available in 2003. The number of bison and bighorn sheep permits is down slightly. The total number of permits for each of these species is as follows:

* Pronghorn: 411
* Moose: 114
* Bison: 43
* Desert Bighorn Sheep: 35
* Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep: 9
* Rocky Mountain Goats: 43

Results of Utah's 2004 Big Game Draw will be available at the DWR Web site by April 28.