If you like to hunt deer in Utah, you need to let the Utah Wildlife Board know which hunting option you want the board to pass.
The Division of Wildlife Resources will present some major changes for the 2011 hunt at public meetings in November. Those changes could affect the number of bucks you see and the ability you and your family have to hunt.
You can learn about the proposed changes by visiting this Web page- www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html.
Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR, says the proposed deer hunting changes are the biggest proposed in Utah in almost 15 years. "What's decided could change deer hunting as we know it," Aoude says.
The DWR will present three options.
Option 3 is similar to the way deer hunting happens in Utah today (see www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html for details). The following are highlights from the other two options:
Raising the number of bucks compared to the number of does is the goal of both options.
The current goal is to manage Utah's general season areas so biologists find at least 15 bucks per 100 does after the hunting seasons are over in the fall. Both of the new options would raise that goal to 18 bucks per 100 does.
Raising the number of bucks per 100 does requires reducing the number of bucks hunters take during the general season hunt. And there's only one effective way to do that-reduce the number of hunters.
Option 1 is the DWR's preferred option. Under this option, general season hunting would continue within the five regions Utah currently has. But areas within a region that have very low buck-to-doe ratios would be managed separately from the rest of the region.
Fewer permits, more expensive
Increasing the regional buck-to-doe average to at least 18 bucks per 100 does would require reducing the total number of hunters by about 7,000.
Currently, 94,000 hunters are allowed to hunt.
Because 7,000 fewer permits would be offered, the permits that are available might cost more.
Under Option 2, the state would be split into 29 separate hunting areas. These areas would be called units. The units would be managed on an individual basis so at least 18 bucks per 100 does were found on each unit after the hunts were over in the fall. Reaching at least 18 bucks per 100 does on each of these smaller units-instead of an average of 18 bucks per 100 does on a larger, regional basis-would require a deeper cut in permits.
About 13,000 fewer hunters would be allowed to hunt under Option 2. And permits would probably cost more.
Dedicated Hunter program could change
Two other notes about Option 2:
The state's Dedicated Hunter program would change under Option 2. The program would probably become a one-year program. Before you could join the program, you'd have to draw a permit for the unit you wanted to hunt. After getting a permit and joining the program, you'd be allowed to hunt all three seasons-archery, muzzleloader and rifle-on the unit you drew a permit for.
Under Option 2, it's likely that archery hunters would be required to hunt within a single unit. Currently, archery hunters can hunt statewide.
After visiting www.wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html, you can let members of your Regional Advisory Council know which option you prefer either of the following ways:
Five public meetings will be held starting Nov. 9.
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e-mail. E-mail addresses for the members of the RACs are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's e-mail address. You should direct your e-mail to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.
Dec. 2 is decision day
Members of the Utah Wildlife Board will use the public input they receive directly and through the RACs to decide which of the three options to approve.
Members of the board will make their decision when they meet Dec. 2 in Salt Lake City.