Shed antler

Deer and moose are seen near Garden City in this 2017 photo by Greg Sheehan. Winter is the toughest time of year for big game animals in Utah. Deep snow makes it harder to find food. And prolonged cold weather can sap their strength.

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Editor’s noteThis media release was written by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The headline was written by Herald Journal staff to localize the release.

Winter and early spring are the toughest and most critical times of the year for big game animals, especially deer.

Cold temperatures and pushing through deep snow sap their strength. And, the snow buries much of their food. As winter progresses, deer get weaker and weaker.

To help protect the animals, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources annually closes seven wildlife management areas in Northern Utah. The closure runs Jan. 1–April 9, 2021. The WMAs reopen on April 10.

The only exception is the Henefer-Echo WMA in Summit County. Those who obtained a late-season cow elk hunting permit for the area can hunt on the WMA from Jan. 1–24, 2021.

Except for the cow elk hunt, no public activities of any kind can take place while the WMAs are closed. Even taking a leisurely walk through a WMA is off-limits until April 10.

Scott Walker, regional habitat manager for the DWR, says the seven WMAs provide critical winter habitat for mule deer.

“They also give the animals a refuge where they can remain undisturbed during the most critical time of the year,” he said. “If you trespass on a WMA and disturb an animal, the animal has to use some of its energy reserves to escape.

Once an animal uses up its energy reserves, it dies.”

Unfortunately, some people don’t understand what they’re doing to the deer, or they don’t care. For example, every year, people who want to hike through the Millville-Providence WMA in Cache County cut fences next to closure signs.

Those who are caught trespassing on any of the seven WMAs face a fine that typically starts at $210. Those who vandalize property will face stiffer penalties for criminal mischief.

With the exception of the Henefer-Echo WMA, the following WMAs in northern Utah are closed Jan. 1–April 9, 2021:

Cache County

Millville-Providence WMA

Richmond WMA

Box Elder County

Brigham Face WMA

Coldwater Canyon WMA

Weber County

Middle Fork WMA

Morgan County

East Canyon WMA

Summit County

Henefer-Echo WMA

(The Henefer-Echo WMA will be open Jan. 1–24, 2021, but only for those who obtained a cow elk hunting permit for the area. No other activities can take place.)

If you have questions about the closures, please call the DWR’s Ogden office at (801)476-2740.

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