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Big changes proposed for Utah 2011 deer hunting

From the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

-- If you like to hunt deer in Utah, the Utah Wildlife Board wants to know which hunting option you want the board to pass.

The Division of Wildlife Resources will present major change proposals for the 2011 hunt at public meetings Nov.9 to 17.
The changes could affect the number of bucks hunters see and the ability to hunt.

Hunters  can learn about the proposed changes by visiting http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html.

Anis Aoude, DWR big game coordinator, says the proposed deer hunting changes are the biggest proposed in Utah in almost 15 years. "What's decided could change deer hunting as we know it," Aoude says.

In September 2010, the Utah Wildlife Board met with the DWR to discuss the state's deer herds. During that public meeting, board members said they wanted the DWR to postpone changes to the state's hunting seasons and instead focus on increasing the number of bucks per 100 does.

With the board's input, the DWR has identified three options that could increase the number of buck deer in Utah. The options address hunters' concerns about not seeing enough bucks, but will not produce larger deer herds. Other aspects of Utah's deer management program are focused on increasing the deer population.

To assess options, hunters will need to know the difference between a region and a unit. For the purposes of general-season deer hunting, Utah is divided into five regions.  See http://wildlife.utah.gov/maps/2011_proposed/regional_option.php.  For the purposes of big-game management, Utah is divided into many smaller areas called units. http://wildlife.utah.gov/maps/2011_proposed/unit_by_unit_option.php.

The three options the DWR will present to the regional advisory councils (RACs) and the Wildlife Board this fall can be seen online at http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/2011-deer-changes.html.

Option 3 is similar to the way deer hunting happens in Utah now. Raising the number of bucks compared to the number of does is the goal of both options. Highlights from the other two options:

The current goal is to manage Utah's general season areas so biologists find at least 15 bucks per 100 does after the hunting seasons are over in the fall. Both of the new options would raise that goal to 18 bucks per 100 does.

. Raising the number of bucks per 100 does requires reducing the number of bucks hunters take during the general season hunt. And there's only one effective way to do that-reduce the number of hunters.

. Option 1 is the DWR's preferred option. Under this option, general season hunting would continue within the five regions Utah currently has. But areas within a region that have very low buck-to-doe ratios would be managed separately from the rest of the region.

Increasing the regional buck-to-doe average to at least 18 bucks per 100 does would require reducing the total number of hunters by about 7,000. Currently, 94,000 hunters are allowed to hunt.

Because 7,000 fewer permits would be offered, the permits that are available might cost more.

Under Option 2, the state would be split into 29 separate hunting areas. These areas would be called units. The units would be managed on an individual basis so at least 18 bucks per 100 does were found on each unit after the hunts were over in the fall. Reaching at least 18 bucks per 100 does on each of these smaller units-instead of an average of 18 bucks per 100 does on a larger, regional basis-would require a deeper cut in permits.

About 13,000 fewer hunters would be allowed to hunt under Option 2. Permits would probably cost more. Also, the state's Dedicated Hunter program would change under Option 2. The program would probably become a one-year program. Before a hunter could join the program, her or she would have to draw a permit for the unit you wanted to hunt. After getting a permit and joining the program, the hunter would be allowed to hunt all three seasons-archery, muzzleloader and rifle-on the unit you drew a permit for.

Also, under Option 2, it's likely that archery hunters would be required to hunt within a single unit. Currently, archery hunters can hunt statewide.

Utah hunters are asked to share their ideas  with their Regional Advisory Council at either a public meeting or by e-mail. E-mail addresses for the members of the RACs are available online at http://wildlife.utah.gov/dwr/hunting/board-rac.html.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's e-mail address.

Five public meetings will be held starting Nov. 9. Dates, times and locations:

. Northern Region, Nov. 9, 6 p.m., Brigham City Community Center, 24 N 300 W, Brigham City.
. Central Region, Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m., Springville City Multipurpose Room, 110 S Main ST, Springville.
. Southern Region, Nov. 16, 5 p.m., Beaver High School, 195 E Center ST, Beaver.
. Southeastern Region, Nov. 17, 6:30 p.m., John Wesley Powell Museum, 1765 E Main Street, Green River.
. Northeastern Region, Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m., Western Park, 302 E 200 S, Vernal.

The Utah Wildlife Board will make a decision based on public input when it meets Dec. 2 to approve one of the three proposed options.

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