Big Increase in Cow Moose Permits

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Fewer moose will be walking onto roads and into backyards in Utah next year.

At its meeting April 27 in Salt Lake City, the Utah Wildlife Board voted to more than double the number of cow moose permits available for hunts in Utah this fall. A total of 63 cow moose permits will be available. In 2005, a total of 25 were available.

Many of Utah's cow moose hunts take place on private property. Hunters are strongly encouraged to obtain written permission from landowners before applying for a permit that occurs on private land.

Hunters can apply for a 2006 Utah doe deer, doe pronghorn, cow elk or cow moose permit beginning May 23. Applications must be received no later than June 19 to be included in the draw for permits. Draw results will be available by July 27.

Antlerless big game permits

The number of antlerless permits available in 2005, and the number the Utah Wildlife Board has approved for hunts in Utah this fall, are as follows:

Year 2005 - 2006
Cow elk 5,982 - 4,999
Doe Deer 1,680 - 1,080
Doe pronghorn 452 - 587
Cow moose 25 - 63

More cow moose permits

Utah's moose populations have grown to the point that the Division of Wildlife Resources wants to start maintaining the number of moose the state has. Providing 63 cow moose permits for this fall's hunts (and an additional 43 permits on Cooperative Wildlife Management Units) is a step in that direction.

Craig McLaughlin, big game coordinator for the DWR, says the DWR conducted its most recent moose survey in February 2005. After the survey, DWR biologists estimated the state's moose population at 4,130 animals. That's only 40 animals shy of a statewide objective of 4,170.

"While 4,130 moose is really close to the statewide objective, some of the state's individual moose units actually have more moose on them than the habitat can handle," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin says it's important to try and keep moose within the objectives called for in Utah's Moose Management Plan. "It's exciting to see lots of moose, but if the populations grow too large, then we can run into some problems," he said.

Those problems include people hitting moose with their cars and moose be getting into backyards, where they eat trees and pose a threat to people. Too many moose can also damage the habitat that moose and other animals rely on.

McLaughlin says public hunting is the best way to control moose numbers. "In addition to controlling moose numbers, cow moose hunting provides people with a great outdoor experience and a lot of good meat to share with their family," he said.

More deer and elk

The state's deer and elk populations are also growing.

"The rain and snow the state has received over the past couple of years have really helped the deer and elk populations," McLaughlin said. "The forage is a lot better than it was during the drought years, and the animals are doing well."

Mild winters have also helped. "Fewer animals have been lost during the past two winters," he said.

Population estimates, which are based on surveys conducted by DWR biologists after the fall hunting seasons, show the state's deer and elk populations are growing.

DWR biologists estimate that there were 296,050 deer in Utah before the start of last winter. That's an increase of 6,145 deer over the 289,905 estimated before the winter of 2004.

DWR biologists also estimate that there were 60,135 elk in Utah before last winter started. That's an increase of 1,295 elk over the 58,840 estimated in the state before the winter of 2004.

Even with the growing populations, the DWR recommended that the Utah Wildlife Board reduce cow elk and doe deer permits this year. "We want to keep Utah's deer and elk populations moving towards the objectives set in the state's deer and elk management plans," McLaughlin said.

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