Utah Increases Antlerless Big Game Permits

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More permits will be available in Utah this year to hunt big game animals that don't have antlers.

At their May 8 meeting in Salt Lake City, members of the Utah Wildlife Board increased the number of cow elk, cow moose and doe pronghorn antelope permits available for this fall's hunts.

You can apply for an antlerless big game permit starting June 2. Applications must be received no later than June 30.

Antlerless permit numbers

The number of antlerless permits available in 2007, and the number that will be available in 2008, are as follows:
                     2007    2008
Doe deer          1,730   1,170
Cow elk          7,931   10,529
Doe pronghorn   392   727
Cow moose       89    109

Most of Utah's doe deer permits are used to limit the number of deer that live in and near urban areas through the year. However, on some units, such as the East Canyon and Chalk Creek units in northern Utah, the permits are also used to control the number of deer across the entire unit.

The East Canyon and Chalk Creek units are mostly private property. Sometimes the number of deer on the units climbs higher than the population objective for the units.

"It might be hard to remember, but before all of the snow fell this past winter, Utah was starting to slide back into a drought," says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

"The drought conditions affected the habitat the deer rely on. As a result, fewer fawns were making it through their first year of life," he says. "Reducing the number of doe permits on the East Canyon and Chalk Creek units, and a few other units, will allow the deer populations on these units to grow."

Cow elk

While the number of deer in Utah has declined a bit, the number of elk continues to climb. That's the main reason the wildlife board approved 10,529 cow elk permits for this fall's hunts.

"Several of the state's elk herds are getting close to their population objective. We want to slow their growth a bit so the herds don't overshoot their objective. If they overshoot it, then we'll have to offer a lot of cow elk permits in 2009. We'd rather increase permit numbers slowly than all at once," Aoude says.

Aoude says several herds are also at or over their population objective. "Offering more permits will help us keep these herds at or near their population objective," he says.

Doe pronghorn

DWR biologists have worked for years to reduce the number of pronghorn in the large herds on the Parker Mountains in southwestern Utah. Lots of hunting permits have been issued, and animals have been taken off the unit and transplanted elsewhere.

Biologists conducted an aerial survey of the unit earlier this spring. They found there's still a large number of pronghorn on the unit and more work to do.

For that reason, the board approved 350 doe pronghorn permits for the Parker Mountains. The Parker Mountains are part of the Plateau unit.

The remaining 377 doe pronghorn permits the board members approved will be split among the rest of the state's pronghorn units to deal with depredation issues.

Cow moose

Utah's moose herds, including those along the Wasatch Front, continue to flourish. For this reason, board members approved 109 cow moose permits for this fall's hunts.