Beginning April 15, hunters will be able to learn how many permits will be available in Utah's 2002 big game draw by logging on the internet at www.wildlifeutahgov/2002bgdraw1.htm.
The Utah Wildlife Board approved limited entry permit numbers for this fall's big game hunts at its April 9 meeting in Salt Lake City. A draw for permits will be conducted this month, with results of the draw available by April 30.
Some of the most significant changes the board approved involve permits for deer, elk, bison and Rocky Mountain goats.
Deer. A total of 1,339 limited entry buck deer permits will be available this year, a 15 percent reduction from the 1,582 available in 2001. "Most of the decreases are on the Book Cliffs, San Juan, Elk Ridge; and West Desert Vernon units, where two to three years of drought has resulted in fewer fawns surviving each year," explained Steve Cranney, big game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
The board also reduced public permits on the Paunsaugunt unit in southwestern Utah by 25 percent. A total of 217 permits will be available on the Paunsaugunt this fall. The Southern Regional Advisory Council requested the decrease to reduce the number of bucks taken, with the purpose of providing bigger bucks for hunters to take in the future.
Elk. The total number of limited entry bull elk permits increased six percent from 805 in 2001, to 855 for 2002. The unit with the biggest increase was the Wasatch Mountains unit in north-central Utah. Permit numbers on the unit rose from 98 offered last year, to 132 this year. "Bull elk numbers on most units are doing well," Cranney commented.
Bison. Bull bison and hunter's choice bison permits for the Henry Mountains unit in southeastern Utah decreased from a total of 87 in 2001, to 42 for 2002. "We've offered quite a few permits over the years to try and get the bison on that unit under their management objective," explained Jim Karpowitz, once-in-a-lifetime big game species coordinator for DWR. "Now that we have them there, we'll focus on maintaining the number of bison we have."
Rocky Mountain Goats. Rocky Mountain goat permit numbers will be the same on all units except two.
On the Beaver unit, two permits will be offered this year, compared to one last year.
On the Kamas-North Slope-South Slope unit in the Uinta Mountains, permits doubled from five offered in 2001, to 10 in 2002. "We did our first helicopter goat census of the Uinta Mountains unit this past summer, and found more than 200 goats," revealed Karpowitz. "The high numbers allowed us to ask for the permit increase."
In addition to approving big game permit numbers, the board also approved changes to some of Utah's big game management plans. The most significant change involved six bull elk units in southern Utah, where the board approved a change in the age objective for bull elk taken by hunters.
On the LaSal Mountains, Beaver, Mount Dutton, Boulder and Paunsaugunt units, the new objective is to manage bull elk so that the elk taken by hunters will average five to six years old. The former objective was to average three to four of age in the bull elk harvest.
The board also lowered the harvested bull age objective on the Monroe unit to five to six year old bulls. The previous objective was seven to eight year old bulls. "Most of the bull elk that hunters are taking on the first five units are already averaging five to six years old because of the extensive movement of elk from other units," Cranney explained. "The Monroe unit has a very high population of mature bulls but the age objective of seven to eight years has not been met for several years, in spite of extremely low numbers of permits for the number of bulls counted on the unit. "Making these changes will allow for much better management across all these units," continued Cranney.
Recommended bull elk permit numbers for the six units will not be adjusted to the new management objectives until the 2003 hunting season.
For more information call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office, or the Division's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.