Black bear hunting permits could increase by as much as 20 percent for Utah's 2008 hunts.
Taking bears in areas where bears and people come into conflict every year is part of a three-pronged approach the Division of Wildlife Resources is taking to try and reduce the chance those conflicts occur in 2008.
The other prongs involve the public and those who run campgrounds. DWR staff will continue to educate people about how to avoid attracting bears to them. They'll also encourage the use of bear-proof garbage containers in campgrounds.
"The best way to avoid problems with bears is to not do things that attract bears to you in the first place," says Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the DWR. "When a bear gets into trouble, it's usually because someone has done something that's attracted the bear to them or to someone else."
DWR biologists will share their recommendations at a series of public meetings held across Utah. The meetings will give you a chance to learn more about the proposals and to provide biologists with your input and suggestions.
Citizens from Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils will take the public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets in Salt Lake City on Jan. 8, 2008 to approve Utah's 2008 Black Bear Proclamation.
Additional items also will be discussed at the meetings. More information about these items is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/next.php
Local meetings for the southeastern region will take place on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. in the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 East Main Street in Green River.
A meeting for the northeastern region will take place the next day at 6:30 p.m. at the Uintah Basin Technology College at 1100 East Lagoon Street in Roosevelt.
The DWR is proposing a total of 296 black bear hunting permits for Utah's 2008 spring and fall hunts. That's a 20 percent increase from the 248 permits offered in 2007.
Most of the additional permits would be issued for the northeastern and north-central parts of the state. Those are the areas where most of the encounters between bears and people happened in 2007. They're also the areas where bears caused the most property damage.