The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has unveiled its proposed big game hunting permit numbers for 2024, alongside potential changes to shed antler gathering regulations. These recommendations are open for public feedback, emphasizing transparency and community involvement in wildlife management decisions.

Deer populations in Utah are influenced by various factors, including weather conditions, predator balance, habitat quality, and survival rates of adult does and fawns. Contrary to common misconceptions, hunting buck deer doesn't significantly impact population numbers. Instead, deer population dynamics primarily hinge on factors like doe survival, fawn production, and winter survival rates.

Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
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The DWR employs a meticulous approach to deer permit recommendations, integrating data from buck-to-doe ratios, population estimates, GPS collar tracking, hunter harvest rates, and habitat assessments. With favorable winter survival rates and high buck-to-doe ratios, the DWR is proposing increases in general-season deer permits across various regions, reflecting optimism for healthy deer populations.

Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
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Similarly, elk permit recommendations aim to maintain population objectives, with a slight increase in limited-entry bull elk permits and antlerless elk permits for 2024 hunts. Antlerless permits are crucial for population management, habitat health, and mitigating conflicts, while doe deer hunts target specific concerns without aiming to reduce overall deer populations.

In response to legislative changes, the DWR is proposing updates to shed antler gathering regulations. These include establishing a season for recreational gathering, setting rules for commercial gathering and sale, and implementing restitution values for shed antlers. Furthermore, the DWR is considering no seasonal closures for Utah residents, a defined season for non-residents, mandatory ethics courses, and emergency closures triggered by winter feeding.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash
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Additionally, the DWR is proposing rule changes for big game hunting, such as modifying language on night vision device usage and aircraft landings, as well as eliminating certain reporting requirements to streamline the hunting process. The Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit program, which opens private land for public hunting, may see adjustments in antlerless permit allocations and the approval of new CWMU applications.

Public involvement is encouraged through regional advisory council meetings and the Utah Wildlife Board meeting, where stakeholders can provide feedback on proposed recommendations. Both virtual and in-person attendance options are available, with online comment submission deadlines specified for each meeting.

DWR
DWR
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The regional advisory council for the southern region of Utah will be held on Tuesday, April 16th in the Cedar Breaks room of the Sharwan Smith Student Center on the campus of Southern Utah University. Online comments must be submitted by April 10th at 11:59PM. This inclusive approach fosters collaboration between wildlife management agencies and the community, ensuring decisions align with public interests and conservation goals.

Overall, the DWR's proposed recommendations for big game hunting permits and shed antler gathering reflect a balanced approach to wildlife management, prioritizing population health, habitat conservation, and community engagement. With public input playing a pivotal role, these initiatives aim to sustain Utah's rich wildlife heritage for future generations.

You can get further information and find out how to make online comments at the DWR website.

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