Utah Changes Bear Hunting Rules

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

Three areas that are popular places to pursue bears with dogs should be quieter this summer.

On Jan. 6, the Utah Wildlife Board approved the following bear pursuit changes on the Book Cliffs, San Juan and La Sal units in eastern Utah:

* The number of permits offered to pursue bears with dogs will be limited this summer. And the summer pursuit season has been split into an early season and a late season. The following number of permits will be available:

  • Early season
  • Unit Season dates Resident/Nonresident
  • Book Cliffs July 8 - 22 15/2
  • San Juan July 8 - 22 18/2
  • La Sal July 8 - 22 12/1
  • Late season
  • Unit Season dates Resident/Nonresident
  • Book Cliffs July 29 - Aug. 12 15/2
  • San Juan July 29 - Aug. 12 18/2
  • La Sal July 29 - Aug. 12 12/1

The season dates have been set so no pursuit takes place during the July 24 weekend, which is a state holiday in Utah. (There's a seven-day break between the two pursuit seasons.)

* The number of hounds houndsmen can use to pursue bears on ANY unit in the state during the summer pursuit season will also be limited. Houndsmen may not use more than eight hounds to pursue a single bear in the summer.

This change applies to the summer pursuit season only. The number of dogs houndsmen can use during the spring and fall pursuit and hunting seasons is not limited.

Those changes -- and more permits for bear hunts this spring and fall -- are among changes the board approved at their meeting in Salt Lake City.

All of the changes the board approved will be available in the 2010 Utah Black Bear Guidebook. The guidebook should be available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks by late January.

A quieter summer

The Book Cliffs, San Juan and La Sal units are three of the most popular places in Utah to pursue bears with trained hounds. Unfortunately, that popularity has caused some problems.

"Last summer, we received more than 150 complaints from campers, hikers and others who were recreating in the area," says Justin Dolling, game mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

"Some of the houndsmen were using as many as 20 hounds to pursue a single bear," Dolling says. "When these hounds get on a bear's track, they bark a lot, and they're extremely noisy. The noise and the commotion they and the houndsmen caused bothered some of the people who were camping and hiking in the area."

More hunting permits

The board also approved more hunting permits for this year's bear hunts.

In 2009, a total of 319 permits were available. The board approved 368 permits for 2010.

Based on an average success rate of just over 40 percent, the extra 49 permits should result in hunters taking about 21 additional bears in 2010.

In 2009, hunters took 147 bears in Utah.

First spot and stalk only hunt

The board also approved Utah's first spot and stalk only hunt. This hunt will be held in the Roadless area in the Book Cliffs. Hunters may not use hounds during the hunt.

"Very few bear hunters hunt this area," Dolling says. "As a result, the bear population is growing. Horseback riders and big game hunters are encountering more and more bears in the area."

The area's small size is among the challenges houndsmen face in taking bears in the area. The hounds can chase bears off the unit before the hunters take the bears.

"That's why we decided to go with a spot and stalk hunt," Dolling says. "There are plenty of bears in the area, so there's a good chance that spot and stalk hunters will find success. And the chance that a spot and stalk hunter chases a bear off the unit before he or she takes it is much lower than those hunting with hounds."

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.