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Major changes proposed for Utah Dedicated Hunter program

From the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources

-- Dedicated Hunters in Utah have given the state's wildlife more than $6 million in volunteer hours and service in the past four years alone, but the program that's provided that service will change in 2012. That's when deer hunters in Utah switch from hunting deer in five large regions to hunting on smaller areas called units.

Rhianna Christopher, volunteer program coordinator, said the DWR has worked hard to keep the Dedicated Hunter program that hunters will join in 2012 as close as possible to the way the program is now.

"This is a valuable program," she says. "We want the program to work for hunters."

Major changes the DWR is recommending for the Dedicated Hunter program starting in 2012 include:

-- After lifetime license holders choose the unit they want to hunt, 15 percent of the remaining general-season deer hunting permits in each unit would be set aside for Dedicated Hunters.

-- To join the Dedicated Hunter program in 2012, hunters would have to do two things: Apply to join the program and draw a permit for the unit you'd like to hunt.

-- If a hunter draws a permit for the unit her or she would like to hunt, the permit will be issued after the hunter completes Dedicated Hunter program requirements.

The unit a hunter obtains a permit for is the unit that hunter would hunt during the three years her or she is in the program. During the three-year enrollment period, hunters would not be allowed to change or exchange their permit for a different unit.

-- In addition to applying for the Dedicated Hunter program, hunters could also apply for a limited-entry buck deer and a regular general-season buck deer permit, but would be issued only one of the three permits. Hunters  would apply for all three permits during the 2012 big game application period.

The Dedicated Hunter limited-entry permit draw would be eliminated in 2012. More information about the changes the DWR is recommending is available in a chart Christopher has compiled. The chart is available at http://wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/info/2011-05-01.pdf.

More information about the current Dedicated Hunter program is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dh.

After  reviewing ideas at http://go.usa.gov/TSL and wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings,  residents can let your Regional Advisory Council members know their  thoughts by attending an upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.

RAC chairmen share the input they receive with the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets June 9.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings:

-- Southern Region, May 10, 7 p.m., Cedar Middle School, 2215 W Royal Hunt DR, Cedar City. 
-- Southeastern Region, May 11, 6:30 p.m., John Wesley Powell Museum, 1765 E Main Street, Green River. 
-- Northeastern Region, May 12, 6 p.m., Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center, 320 N Aggie Blvd (2000 W), Vernal. 
-- Central Region, May 17, 6:30 p.m., Springville Civic Center, 110 S Main ST, Springville. 
-- Northern Region, May 18, 6 p.m., Brigham City Community Center, 24 N 300 W, Brigham City.

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.

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