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Upcoming wildlife conservation course allows hunters to join special statewide program

Those interested in joining Utah's dedicated hunter program in 2003 must attend an upcoming wildlife conservation course.

The courses run about two hours and preregistration is not required. To be eligible to join the program, a person must attend one of the following courses before Feb. 6, 2003 and purchase a program certificate of registration before April 1, 2003. Those who complete the program's requirements will receive additional opportunities to hunt deer in Utah.

A course will be hosted Jan. 16 at the Castle Valley Center, 755 North Cedar Hill Drive in Price. The course will begin at 7 p.m. For more information, call 636-0260.

A separate course will take place Jan. 15 at the Museum of San Rafael, 64 North 100 East in Castle Dale. It begins at 7 p.m.

The dedicated hunter program began in 1995 at the request of sportsman's groups, who wanted additional opportunities to hunt deer after Utah went to a choose-your-season deer hunt strategy.

With input from these groups, the DWR created the dedicated hunter program.

Under the program, participants choose which general buck deer region they wish to hunt and are allowed to hunt in that region all three general seasons including archery, muzzleloader and rifle. In addition, participants are allowed to hunt the extended archery hunt.

Participants are allowed to take a total of two deer during their three-year participation period, and may not take two deer in the same year.

In return, participants must attend a regional advisory council meeting and provide a total of 24 hours of service on conservation projects that benefit wildlife.

Participants may choose to substitute some of the wildlife conservation project hours by paying a fee of $18.75 for each hour substituted.

Participants who are residents of Utah may not substitute more than 16 of the required 24 total required service hours, however.

The program currently has more than 7,400 participants and is growing by about 2,000 members a year. There is a 10,000 cap on the number of people who can be in the program however.

Utah's dedicated hunter program is unique because it's the only program like it in the nation.

Detailed information about the program is available in the 2003 Utah big game proclamation, which will be available in late December.

Those with questions may contact their nearest DWR office.

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