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With many people flooding to the outdoors for recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah State Parks and other land management agencies saw a significant increase in their number of visitors.

Many of those escaping to the outdoors were also able to enjoy hunting and fishing as a recreational outlet, as the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources saw a record year for hunting and fishing license sales.

From March 2020 to February 2021, the DWR sold 222,124 combination licenses (which allow the holder to legally fish and hunt in the state of Utah), compared to 183,358 from March 2019 to February 2020. A total of 417,883 fishing licenses were sold during the 2020-21 timeframe, an increase of more than 100,000 licenses from the year before. And 68,265 hunting licenses were sold, up from the previous year’s 50,551 hunting licenses.

DWR Wildlife Licensing Coordinator Phil Gray said the numbers represent a 28% increase from the previous year, when on average, the agency typically  sees about a 2% increase in license sales each year. 

“This was the most licenses we have sold in one year, by far,” Gray said. "Hunting and fishing are definitely a great way to experience the outdoors and Utah’s wildlife, and we are glad so many people were able to enjoy these activities during such a difficult year.”

There was also an increase in the number of people who bought fishing or hunting licenses for the first time: 167,000 licenses were sold to first-time customers, compared to 121,000 in 2019. July was the busiest month for total license sales. And fishing licenses saw the biggest increase overall — they surged 28% from the previous year.

“We love to see more people discover and enjoy Utah’s outstanding fishing. While some wildlife species require hunters to obtain permits through a drawing, fishing only requires a license that you can easily buy online, creating unlimited fishing opportunities for Utahns,” Gray said. “Everyone who wants to can go fishing any time of the year, and there are plenty of incredible areas and opportunities for Utahns to create lasting memories while fishing in our beautiful state.”

Along with providing a great way to relax and enjoy Utah’s natural resources, the increase in fishing and hunting license sales also bodes well for Utah’s fish and wildlife.

“License dollars are used by the DWR to carry out the division's mission to conserve and protect the wildlife of Utah,” Gray said. “So any time you buy a fishing or hunting license, you are helping conserve wildlife in Utah. That funding is used for projects like improving habitat for our various fish and wildlife species in the state, so that everyone can continue enjoying them for years to come.”

Visit the DWR website to buy a fishing, hunting or combination license.

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