Utah Revises Black Bear Management Plan to Protect Mule Deer Populations

by Katie Maloney
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New regulations, approved this week, allow the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) to establish a “liberal harvest strategy” when it comes to black bears.

In short, this basically removes the previous limits on the number of black bears hunted within specific areas that directly impact mule deer herds. Officials approved the changes in an effort to help declining mule deer populations. The changes were made under Utah’s Constitutional Amendment E, the “Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment,” which passed on Nov. 3 by nearly 75%. The new regulations start this year. However, UDWR’s game mammals coordinator says this is the only change they are currently making.

“The state has not yet altered the number of hunting permits issued or the state’s harvest strategy for black bears in any of its five management areas,” says the coordinator.

Utah made similar changes last year in order to control the mountain lion population. Officials increased the number of spot and stalk permits. The state also offers a bounty program. This program encourages hunters to harvest coyotes so that mule deer and other small animal herd populations are healthy.

Utah revises black bear hunting regulations. (Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Utah Tracks Number of Illegal Black Bear And Wildlife Kills

Each state has its own regulations for the hunting season. Officials create these regulations in order to support legal hunting, protect wildlife, and keep citizens safe. However, despite the regulations, illegal hunters take hundreds of animals every year. Utah recently shared the numbers on its illegal wildlife kills. In 2020, Utah had 1,056 illegal kills. According to a report, this is actually slightly lower than in 2019 when illegal hunters took 1,080 animals. The total combined value of the wildlife taken is more than $379,000.

In the same report the Division of Wildlife Resources Captain, Wyatt Bubak, discussed the impact of illegal hunting.

“Each animal that is illegally killed in our state is one less animal for legal hunters, wildlife enthusiasts, and everyday citizens to enjoy. Poachers steal our ability to enjoy Utah’s wildlife,” said Bubak.

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