Utah DWR Recommends More Elk, Deer and Moose Permits

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After another mild winter, Utah's big game animals are in great shape.

How well the animals are doing is reflected in the Division of Wildlife Resources' 2007 antlerless hunting recommendations. Taking female animals is the main tool biologists have to keep big game animals from increasing past the number their habitat can sustain.

This year the DWR is asking for an increase in antlerless deer, elk and moose permits. Pronghorn antelope permits would decrease by about 250 permits.

You can learn more about the proposals, and provide DWR biologists with your input and suggestions, at any of five public meetings. The meetings will be held April 17.

Citizen Regional Advisory Council representatives will take the public input received at the meetings to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets April 26 in Salt Lake City to approve Utah's 2007 Antlerless Addendum.

The April 17 meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. You can participate and provide your input at any of the following locations:

* Northern Region
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W., Brigham City

* Southeastern Region
John Wesley Powell Museum
885 E. Main St., Green River

* Southern Region
Snow College South
Administration Building,
800 W. 200 S., Richfield

* Central Region
Springville Junior High School
165 S. 700 E., Springville

* Northeastern Region
Western Park, Rm. #2
302 E. 200 S., Vernal

Antlerless permit recommendations

The number of antlerless permits available in 2006, and the number the DWR is recommending for 2007, are as follows:

  • Animal 2006 2007
  • Doe deer 1,080 1,705
  • Cow elk 4,999 8,031
  • Cow moose 63 89
  • Doe pronghorn 587 347

Utah's Deer Management Plan calls for 411,300 deer after the hunting seasons are over in 2010.

To reach that goal, the plan also sets a benchmark: 320,000 deer in Utah by 2008.

DWR biologists are happy to report that the 320,000 deer benchmark has almost been reached two years early.

"Based on computer modeling we did after the 2006 hunting seasons were over, we estimate that more than 318,000 deer were in Utah last winter," says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR.

The DWR wants to increase the number of doe deer permits, but not for areas where most of Utah's deer are found. "We want the state's deer herds to keep growing," Aoude says.

Instead, the DWR is recommending more permits for deer herds that live in low-elevation valleys and don't migrate. Many of these deer are causing depredation and nuisance problems in the areas where they live.

Hunts for these deer are usually held in August and September, before deer from other areas migrate into these low-elevation areas to spend the winter.


Utah's elk populations are also doing well.

After last fall's hunts, DWR biologists estimated the state's elk population at more than 63,800. That's less than 5,000 animals away from a statewide goal of 68,200 elk.

"Elk herds on many of the state's units are actually over the population objective for those units," Aoude says.

The DWR wants to increase cow elk permits to bring these herds back to the number their habitat can sustain.

On units where elk are approaching the population objective, taking some cow elk will help ensure the herds don't grow too fast. "If a herd overshoots its population objective, then we have to recommend a lot of cow elk permits the following year," Aoude says. "That's something we don't want to do."


Moose populations in northern Utah are also doing well. In fact, populations near Ogden are doing so well that a new cow moose hunt has been created. The DWR is recommending 10 permits for the new hunt.

"There are so many moose in northern Utah that the moose are actually starting to damage their habitat," Aoude says. "In addition to creating the new Ogden moose unit, we're also recommending more permits for some of the other units."


Utah's largest pronghorn antelope herd lives on the Parker Mountains in southwestern Utah.

During the past two years, doe pronghorn permits have been increased to try and bring the area's pronghorn population back to its objective. Biologists have also taken pronghorns off the Parker Mountains and transplanted them to other areas in Utah and outside the state.

"Our objective is to count 1,500 pronghorns on the unit after the hunts are over," Aoude says. "We're getting close to that objective. That's why we're recommending a decrease in doe pronghorn permits this year."

A Good time for big game

Aoude says good weather and intense habitat improvement projects over the past few years are starting to pay off. "All of Utah's big game animals are doing really well," he says.

"Over the past few years, much of the state has enjoyed mild winters and wet springs and summers," Aoude says. "All of these conditions help animals."

Aoude says fewer animals die during a mild winter. And a wet spring provides good vegetation for does and cows.

"Good vegetation in the spring helps does and cows produce more milk for their young. That results in strong, young animals," Aoude says. "Good summer rains also provide plenty of vegetation for the fawns and calves, which helps them grow to a good size before fall and winter arrive."

For more information about the April 17 meetings, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.