Unfortunately Utah's mule deer population has been in decline for decades and like most western states, the reasons are complex. However last December the Wildlife Board decided to dramatically cut 2012 hunting permits  by more than 13,000. According to the Salt Lake Tribune , the board is also looking at other ways to boost the mule deer population.
Biologists told the board there could be a number of reasons for the decline, including winter conditions, predation and an estimated 3,000 mule deer a year being killed on state highways. One board member said poaching also should be looked at, though it hasn’t been a problem in recent years.