Utah Increases Bull Elk and Pronghorn Permits

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More bull elk and buck pronghorn permits will be available for hunts in Utah this fall.

At their April 2 meeting in Salt Lake City, the Utah Wildlife Board raised the number of hunting permits available for several big game hunts in Utah.

If you applied for a permit, you'll know by April 30 whether you drew one.

"Most of Utah's big game animals are doing well," says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "That's great news for sportsmen."

The following are among the actions the board took:

Buck deer

Utah has a new statewide deer management plan. "The plan provides a new approach to managing general season deer units," Aoude says.

If the number of bucks on a particular unit falls below the minimum objective of 15 bucks per 100 does, the board can shorten the hunting seasons on the unit. "If the number of bucks per 100 does falls below 10, the board can even cut permits on that specific unit or subunit," Aoude says.

"The new plan allows us to manage the state's deer herds on a unit-by-unit basis, but still allows hunters to hunt on a regional basis," he says. "Managing the herds this way should help the number of bucks per 100 does recover faster."

Because cutting hunting permits is no longer the main tool used to help herds that are struggling, the new plan also allows the state to move back to Utah's statewide permit cap of 97,000 general season deer permits.

On April 2, board members returned 1,000 permits to the Central Region. "Only two units within the region are not meeting the minimum goal of 15 bucks per 100 does," Aoude says. "The hunts will be shorter than normal on those two units this fall."

The DWR also recommended adding 1,000 permits back to the Northeastern Region. The board voted against the increase, however, after sportsmen expressed concerns that there still weren't enough deer in the region.

In the Northern Region, buck-to-doe ratios are good across most of the region. There are two exceptions, though — the Cache unit and the Ogden unit.

After last fall's hunts, the buck-to-doe ratio on the two units was 10 bucks per 100 does.

"Both of these units experienced above-average winter mortality two winters ago," Aoude says. "The board anticipated this winter loss and took 1,000 permits away from the region last year.

"We recommended to the board that they not add 1,000 permits back to the region at this time."

In addition to not adding the 1,000 permits back, the board also took an additional 1,000 permits away from the region. The board did this to try and speed the recovery of the herds on the two units.

Bull elk

On 26 of Utah's 28 limited entry bull elk units, hunters are taking bull elk that are older than the age objective for the units. Because the units have plenty of mature bulls, the board decided to raise the number of limited entry bull elk permits for this fall.

Board members approved 2,738 limited entry bull elk permits for 2009. That's up more than 10 percent from the 2,447 offered last fall.

"There are plenty of mature bulls on these units," Aoude says. "The permit increase will allow a few more hunters a chance to enjoy hunting them this fall."