Deer Permits In Utah Decrease For Fifth Consecutive Year
For the fifth consecutive year, the Utah Wildlife Board approved a decrease in the number of general-season deer hunting permits. The board also approved the other big game and antlerless hunting permits that will be issued during the 2023 seasons, as well as a variety of additional items during Thursday’s public meeting.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources manages deer, elk and other wildlife in accordance with approved management plans to help maintain healthy wildlife populations across the state. Along with using the management plans, DWR biologists also weigh additional factors and data in recommending hunting permit numbers for deer. Some of those factors are the buck to doe ratio, current population estimates, data from GPS collars and body condition of deer from the annual capture efforts.
The current deer management plan includes an objective to have 404,000 deer across Utah. Current estimates have that population at 335,000 deer. While most of the deer had good body fat conditions going into winter, the fawn and doe survival varied throughout the different parts of the state, depending on the severity of the snowfall in each area. Deer herds in the northern and northeastern parts of the state were hit the hardest, and DWR biologists recommended an additional decrease in permits for some of the hunting units in those areas from their prior recommendations in March.
The one area of the state that will actually see an increase in the number of deer permits for the upcoming General Big Game season is here in southern Utah. For our region, the division of Wildlife Resources is recommending an increase of 600 permits, which amounts to a five percent increase. All other regions in Utah will se a decrease in the number of permits available this year. Hardest hit is the northern region, which will se a thirty one percent decrease in the number of deer permits this season.
The board approved a total of 64,725 general-season deer hunting permits, which is an 8,350-permit decrease from the previous year which is roughly and eleven percent decrease.
Elk are impacted differently by drought and severe winter conditions because survival of adults typically remains high, although pregnancy rates have been shown to decline during extreme drought conditions. The current statewide elk management plan includes an objective to have 80,000 elk across Utah. There are currently an estimated 82,960 elk in the state. The wildlife board approved a slight increase in public draw bull elk permits for the 2023 hunts. The youth draw-only any bull elk permits were also increased this year to give youth additional hunting opportunities.
Also at Thursday's meeting the Utah Wildlife Board approved an action item, requesting that the DWR do some research on requiring mandatory tooth reporting for elk harvested in limited-entry bull elk hunts.