Utah wildlife authorities are proposing a new plan that will cover how the state manages its most popular big-game animal for the next seven years.
The current statewide mule deer management plan is a five-year plan that was approved in 2014. Because that plan is due to expire at the end of this year, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing a new seven-year statewide plan, along with some other amendments to the hunt drawing process, and is requesting the public’s feedback on all the proposals.
If approved, the new statewide mule deer management plan will guide the management of mule deer in Utah from December 2019 to December 2026. Some of the main changes to the plan include:
• Allowing biologists to make recommendations each year to achieve the target objectives of deer population throughout the state. This will allow for more fluctuation of buck deer permits from year to year.
• Updating the specific unit plans to set realistic and attainable population objectives for each unit across Utah. Biologists will consider herd health and range conditions when setting these objectives.
• Evaluating areas for new extended archery hunt units to offer additional hunting opportunities throughout the state.
• Continuing to manage general season hunting with a ratio of 15-17 bucks per 100 does on 11 units and 18-20 bucks per 100 does on 18 units. The plan also recommends keeping the management of limited-entry units the same with a ratio of 25-35 bucks per 100 does on seven of the units.
The plan also recommends similar hunting seasons to past years, with one additional day on the late-season limited-entry muzzleloader hunt. It includes a 28-day archery season; five-day early any weapon season on some units; and nine days for the any weapon season, and both regular and late muzzleloader seasons.
This new management plan also includes a portion about slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease in Utah. Chronic wasting disease is a highly contagious, neurodegenerative disease found in deer, elk and moose which is caused by protein particles. Infected animals develop brain lesions, become emaciated, appear listless and have droopy ears, may salivate excessively and will eventually die.
Research has shown that male deer are more likely to be infected with chronic wasting disease than females, with male bucks between 4-6 years old as the most likely to be infected. As such, the management plan looks at some possible strategies such as targeting prime age bucks and holding hunts later to help target these male deer and slow the spread of CWD.
“Mule deer are the most popular species to hunt in Utah. This entire management plan was developed using extensive research and was designed to maintain healthy deer populations throughout Utah and to provide expanded opportunities for hunting and wildlife viewing across the state,” DWR big game coordinator Covy Jones said. “We truly value wildlife and want Utahns to have input on how they are managed, as well.”
One of the other proposals the DWR would like public feedback on is some amendments to the hunt drawing process. The demand for hunting in Utah continues to grow, and hunters have voiced concerns about fairness and lost opportunities in the hunt drawing process. As a result, DWR is proposing several changes to allow for less forfeited permits and more opportunities.
To view the entire plan, visit the DWR website.
The public is being asked to give feedback on each of the proposals. The public can now view the presentations and give feedback online, as well as via the traditional methods of emailing the Regional Advisory Council member in their area and attending the RAC meetings in person.
The RAC meeting for the Northern Region will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the Weber County Commission Chambers, 2380 Washington Blvd., Ogden.
The Utah Wildlife Board will vote on the new plan at a meeting in Salt Lake City on Dec. 5.