Five Elk Shot, Left to Waste in Idaho

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/five-elk-shot-left-to-waste-in-idaho/

Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. For 2024-2025, Fiocchi partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching. 

In early March, conservation officers in Southwest Idaho discovered five elk that were shot out of season and left to waste in two incidents in Unit 39 and are asking the public for information about these two cases.

At the first location, officers found three cow elk that had been shot and left on the north side of Arrowrock Reservoir’s South Fork arm, below the Neal Bridge and near the mouth of Camp Creek.

One of the three cow elk that were shot out of season and left to waste in Unit 39. Officers believe the elk were shot around March 4-5.

At the second location, they discovered two bulls—a five- and a six-point—that had been shot and left near the Forest Service’s Spur 121S access site on South Fork Boise Road. Officers determined that one of the bulls had been moved a short distance and that someone had attempted to hide it under a pile of brush.

Officers believe that in both incidents, the elk were shot sometime around March 4-5.

“Given that the two roads where these incidents occurred are connected, there is a chance that these two incidents are related,” said Greg Milner, conservation officer.

If anyone has information about these incidents, please call the Nampa Regional Office at 208-465-8465, or the Citizen’s Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers can remain anonymous when reporting wildlife violations and may be eligible for cash rewards when that information leads to a citation for a wildlife crime.

(Photo credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Colorado Confirms Two Separate Wolf-Livestock Depredations Within a Week Since Wolf Introduction

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/colorado-confirms-two-separate-wolf-livestock-depredations-within-a-week-since-wolf-introduction-2/

Below is an April 8th news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

On the morning of April 7, Colorado Parks and Wildlife received a report of a possible depredation incident in Jackson County. A CPW wildlife officer responded and conducted a field investigation.

The field investigation found injuries on a dead calf consistent with wolf depredation, including a partially consumed hindquarter. Partial wolf tracks were also found in the same area. CPW is aware of four wolves in the area and these included wolves that were released in December 2023 and a wolf or wolves with known territory in North Park.

Additionally, CPW and CDA have been working together through a Memorandum of Understanding and have been building the capacity to anticipate and prepare for predator livestock incidents and are working towards deploying range riders in coming weeks and other tools to help ranchers with non-lethal deterrence: https://cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/News-Release-Details.aspx?NewsID=4081.

CPW will not be providing any further specific location or specific animal information related to this incident. The CORA exception covering species locations (24-72-204(2)(a)(X)) allows CPW to withhold information that “reveals the specific location or could be used to determine the specific location of . . . an individual animal or group of animals.” Identifying the wolf or wolves potentially involved could allow someone to determine the specific location of those animals.

—–

Below is an April 3rd news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

On the morning of April 2, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) received a report of a possible depredation incident after a landowner in Grand County contacted officers to report a dead calf. CPW wildlife officers quickly responded, conducted a field investigation and confirmed a wolf-livestock depredation had occurred.

“The results of this investigation indicated wounds consistent with wolf depredation,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington. “The field investigation found multiple tooth rake marks on the calf’s hindquarters and neck, and hemorrhaging under the hide, consistent with wolf depredation. Wolf tracks were also found nearby.”

The livestock producer will be eligible for fair market value compensation if a claim is submitted. CPW provides reimbursement for damages caused by gray wolves to livestock defined in C.R.S. 33-2-105.8 and animals used for guard/herding purposes and may provide conflict minimization materials under its Gray Wolf Compensation and Conflict Minimization Program.

Per Colorado Revised Statutes 24-72-204(3)(a)(XXI), CPW may not release private landowner information. The landowner has requested not to be contacted.

CPW staff will continue contacting producers in the area and encouraging the use of appropriate non-lethal deterrents available through the agency.

(Photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

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Collaborative Effort Conserves 1,200 Acres in Southern Wyoming

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/collaborative-effort-conserves-1200-acres-in-southern-wyoming/

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust.

The Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust (Land Trust), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and Nicholas and Dorothy Jamison partnered together to conserve 1,200 acres of the Jamison’s Fish Hook Ranch near Riverside, Wyoming.

The Jamison family is devoted to ensuring their ranch remains intact, maintaining the integrity of the productive agricultural land and wildlife habitat amid development pressure in the valley. This desire ultimately drove the family to place a conservation easement on their property.

“It is always inspiring to see people who love the land be able to keep it in agriculture and habitat, and the Jamison family epitomizes the deep conservation ethic of Wyoming. Ten minutes with them is enough to absorb their deep commitment to community and conservation. This ranch is an absolute paradise for wildlife, and it will remain that way for generations to come. This project is a great example of multiple organizations working together to keep Wyoming wild. Congratulations to the Land Trust and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for making this a reality.” – Bob Budd, Executive Director, Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust

Homesteaded in the late 1880s, the ranch has been used for livestock and hay production, with hunting, fishing and habitat management being added to the operation over the last 40 years.

This conservation easement protects exceptional wildlife values, providing seasonal range for pronghorn antelope and elk, crucial range for mule deer, and year-long habitat for moose, and lies within Greater Sage-grouse Core Area. The property lies in the heart of the Platte Valley Mule Deer Initiative Area and is adjacent to a key Mule Deer Migration Corridor, supplying a braided set of routes used annually by deer for passage to and from seasonal feeding grounds.

The North Platte River runs through the property and is a world class ‘Blue Ribbon’ trout fishery with over 4,000 catchable fish per mile, mainly brown and rainbow trout, making this stretch a popular fishing destination for public fishermen floating the river. The conservation easement protects the fishing, wildlife and agricultural values in perpetuity.

“The Fish Hook conservation easement will protect more than just outstanding river frontage along the North Platte, but also important habitat for golden and bald eagles, and other iconic wildlife. This project wouldn’t have happened without a committed landowner and a collaborative relationship between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust.” – Nicole Korfanta, Executive Director, Knobloch Family Foundation

“Conserving wildlife migration routes is critical in order to protect the movement patterns of elk and other big game species so they can continue to flourish. We salute and thank the Land Trust and the Jamison family for their conservation ethic and vision.” -Jenn Doherty, RMEF Director of Lands & Access

The conservation easement was funded in part by the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, the Knobloch Family Foundation, Rocky Mountain Power and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The Land Trust appreciates its partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Jamison family and the many funding partners that helped get this project to completion. As the land trust ultimately holding this conservation easement, the Jamison’s Fish Hook Ranch brings the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust’s number of protected acres to 298,246 acres statewide. We are grateful for our trusted partners and landowners who make these projects possible!

(Photo credit: Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust)

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‘Elk Country Legacy’ Partners Help Conserve America’s Elk Country

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/elk-country-legacy-partners-help-conserve-americas-elk-country/

MISSOULA, Mont. — As the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation looks ahead to its 40th anniversary next month, it thanks its Elk Country Legacy partners who support all facets of its mission.

“As stewards of the land, RMEF is actively engaged to conserve crucial habitat for elk, mule deer, moose, black bears, pronghorn antelope and many other wildlife species,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “The success of our Elk Country Legacy program only happens through the support of outdoor industry leaders like Benelli, Browning, Fiocchi, Grand View Outdoors, SCHEELS and Winchester, all of whom share our commitment to conservation.”

In 2023 alone, thanks to a collaborative effort, RMEF conserved or enhanced 233,993 acres of wildlife habitat. RMEF also committed $5.7 million that leveraged $26.7 million in partner dollars for habitat enhancement and wildlife management projects and combined with all partners to allocate more than $6.5 million for wildlife research.

Elk Country Legacy shines a spotlight on ongoing conservation projects throughout the United States. By highlighting these endeavors, the campaign aims to inspire RMEF members as well as outdoorsmen and women to take an active role to safeguard our natural resources and support hunting heritage.

Click here to view the latest surrounding these efforts.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded in 1984 and fueled by hunters, RMEF has conserved more than 8.9 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.

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Mapped: 33 New Big Game Migrations Across American West

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/mapped-33-new-big-game-migrations-across-american-west/

Below is a news release from the U.S. Geological Survey. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supplied funding for the first four volumes of western ungulate migrations with a fifth in the works.  

A new set of maps that document the movements of ungulates was published today in the fourth volume of the Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States. The maps in this collaborative U.S. Geological Survey report series reveal the migration routes and critical ranges used by ungulates, or hooved mammals, in the western U.S., furthering scientists’ understanding of the geography. 

The new volume, “Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States: Volume 4,” documents 33 mule deer, pronghorn and elk herd migrations in collaboration with the wildlife agencies of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Wind River Reservation, Wyoming and, for the first time, the states of Oregon and Colorado and the Pueblo of Tesuque in New Mexico. With this latest volume, the report series includes details and maps of the migrations and seasonal ranges for a total of 182 unique herds across 10 states.  

“We’ve now mapped nearly two hundred migrations of mule deer, pronghorn, elk and other ungulates across diverse landscapes, from the high alpine Rocky Mountains to the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest and the desert ecosystems of the American Southwest,” said Matt Kauffman, the report’s lead author and a wildlife biologist with the USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Wyoming. “I’m impressed with how the team has worked together to adopt a standard set of methods to create robust migration maps of these ungulates across the West.” 

Ungulates migrate throughout the American West each spring and fall to access the most nutritious plants and avoid deep snow. But as the human footprint in the West expands, these species increasingly face obstacles such as new subdivisions, energy development, impermeable fences and high-traffic roads on their long journeys. By mapping their migrations, scientists provide critical information—like where migrations overlap with existing and potential obstacles—to managers, policymakers, NGOs and private landowners working to minimize impacts on wildlife. 

“To best conserve and protect the habitat used by migrating elk, mule deer, moose and pronghorn, we have to know exactly where these species move across the landscape,” said Blake Henning, chief conservation officer at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “That’s why this mapping work is so important—it’s to ensure their future health and well-being. We support and greatly appreciate the USGS and collaborating states and Tribes for leading this highly collaborative and globally significant effort.”  

The new report highlights how migration maps can be used for conservation and management amid changing landscapes. For example, when solar farms are built in an ungulate’s range, they can negatively impact habitat and create barriers to movement for resident and migratory animals. The maps featured in the report series have previously been used to inform leasing decisions for oil and gas development, and they can also provide a key resource to help site future renewable energy projects that minimize effects to critical habitat.  

“By using these migration maps and data, the Arizona Game and Fish Department was able to have informed conversations with landowners and solar developers about managing for wildlife corridors through a planned solar facility,” says Jeff Gagnon, statewide connectivity biologist at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. “These efforts will hopefully allow ungulates to continue their seasonal migrations.” 

In addition to managers from the respective state wildlife agencies, co-authors on the fourth volume include the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pueblo of Tesuque Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and Shoshone & Arapaho Tribes Fish and Game, among other partners. Maps of each herd were produced in collaboration with state and Tribal experts by cartographers from the USGS and the InfoGraphics Lab at the University of Oregon. Thanks to funding from the USGS and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, mapping by partners is ongoing, with a fifth volume of migration maps currently in preparation. 

The Corridor Mapping Team, established in 2018 in response to Department of the Interior Secretary’s Order 3362, is a state-Tribal-federal partnership working to map ungulate migration corridors with standard techniques. The first three volumes in the Ungulate Migrations of the Western United States report series were published in 2020 and 2022. 

To explore migration routes and ranges, visit the interactive www.westernmigrations.net portal, or download the map files from www.sciencebase.gov.

(Photo source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation) 

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Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition Allocates $1.8 Million for Conservation

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/wyoming-governors-big-game-license-coalition-allocates-1-8-million-for-conservation/

Below is a news release from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a member of the coalition.

The Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition finalized its 2024 project funding and will allocate $1.8 million for Wyoming wildlife conservation projects.

A total of 78 projects that benefit the committee’s five priorities were funded. Funds were generated through the sale of the Wyoming Governor’s complimentary big game licenses in 2023.

The coalition allocates funds for various wildlife conservation projects through committees that focus on wildlife species-specific initiatives: elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose and an all-wildlife committee. Projects are diverse and range from habitat improvements, conservation easements, research and efforts to facilitate wildlife movements across roadways.

“The Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition puts forth incredible effort to raise money that goes directly on-the-ground for conservation projects. The Coalition is judicious and generous with their allocations to better the landscape for a variety of species. Thank you to hunters for investing in these licenses to support responsible stewardship of our state’s natural resources,” Gov. Mark Gordon said.

Each year the coalition, comprised of Wyoming-based wildlife conservation organizations, as well as the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is tasked with marketing and selling the Governor’s complimentary big game licenses, as authorized by state statute. These include five bighorn sheep, five moose, 10 deer/elk/antelope and five wild bison licenses.

Participating conservation organizations include the Mule Deer Foundation, Muley Fanatics Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation. When licenses are sold, the revenue is solely dedicated to wildlife conservation, with 90% of the proceeds going back to the coalition and the remaining 10% staying within the selling organization.

“The Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition stands out for its ability to rally significant financial support and garner widespread participation from top-notch conservation groups in Wyoming,” said Tim Thomas, Game and Fish Sheridan Region wildlife management coordinator and coalition chair. “This collaborative funding model founded under Gov. Freudenthal and continued by Govs. Mead and Gordon deserves recognition for its ability to leverage funds to support conservation in Wyoming.”

Since the group formed in 2003, the coalition has funded more than $13 million in conservation projects.

(Photo credit: Wyoming Game & Fish Department)

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Wisconsin Seeks Public Feedback on Elk Management Plan

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/wisconsin-seeks-public-feedback-on-elk-management-plan/

Below is a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation assisted with initial successful elk restoration efforts in 1995 as well as subsequent projects since then.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public input on updates to the state’s Elk Management Plan now through April 20, 2024.

Updates to the 2024-2034 Elk Management Plan include changes based on recommendations from the Natural Resources Board, Wisconsin Elk Advisory Committee and feedback from private landowners in the elk management zones.

The public is encouraged to review the proposed plan and share their thoughts via the online comment tool. The DNR will review and consider feedback submitted during the comment period while preparing the final draft of the plan.

Once finalized later this year, the proposed plan will be presented to the Natural Resources Board for approval.

DNR To Host Open Houses on Elk Management Plan

The DNR will host open houses on the proposed management plan for the public to learn about the direction of elk management and the changes made since the last public involvement period. Attendees can ask DNR staff questions about plan updates.

An open house will take place near each elk management zone. The central Wisconsin open house will take place on Wednesday, April 3, while the northern open house will take place on Thursday, April 4. A virtual open house will also be held on Wednesday, April 10, for those who cannot attend the in-person sessions.

EVENT DETAILS

Virtual Elk Management Plan Open House

When: Wednesday, April 10, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Virtual; Register to attend this meeting via Zoom.

(Photo credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)

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Wildlife Officials Confirm Identity of Mountain Lion that Killed Shed Hunter

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/wildlife-officials-confirm-identity-of-mountain-lion-that-killed-shed-hunter/

Below is a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) confirmed that the mountain lion euthanized in a remote area near Georgetown was the same animal involved in a fatal attack earlier that day. CDFW’s Wildlife Forensics Laboratory determined that DNA samples collected from the scene match samples taken from the lion carcass. The male mountain lion weighed approximately 90 pounds and appeared to be in healthy condition.

On March 23, 2024, CDFW wildlife officers responded to a reported mountain lion attack involving 18 and 21-year-old brothers. The men had been antler shed hunting in a remote area near Georgetown in El Dorado County when they were attacked. The younger brother sustained injuries but was able to call 911; the older brother was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders. In the interest of public safety, CDFW authorized a professional trapper, who was able to locate and euthanize the mountain lion within a few hours of the incident.

“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the families and loved ones affected by this tragic incident. Our thoughts are with them during this difficult time,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham.

Mountain lion encounters are uncommon in California but do occasionally occur. Most of the state is suitable mountain lion habitat. However, this is the first confirmed fatality from a mountain lion attack in California since 2004. CDFW will remain in close coordination with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office as standard pathology and other assessments of the lion are completed. Forensic scientists will continue analyzing necropsy results to determine whether there were underlying health conditions related to this particular animal.

(Photo credit: California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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West Virginia Expands Elk Herd by 23 Animals

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/west-virginia-expands-elk-herd-by-23-animals/

Below is a news release from West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supplied funding and volunteer support with the initial elk restoration effort in 2016 as well as a subsequent project with Arizona several years later.

Gov. Jim Justice announced the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR) welcomed an additional 23 elk to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County, where the elk will be evaluated and held for a short period of time before being released into the wild.

“As a lifelong outdoorsman, witnessing the resurgence of West Virginia’s elk herd brings me immense joy and pride,” said Gov. Justice. “This achievement underscores our unwavering commitment to preserving our state’s outdoor heritage and ensuring our abundant wildlife and natural resources are protected for generations to come.”

The elk transport, which brings West Virginia’s elk population to 140–150, is the final of two transports the WVDNR has planned this year. The first was announced by Gov. Justice in January. All elk released this year have been transported from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky. Partner agencies involved in the capture and release include the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Gov. Justice also announced the WVDNR has recorded 60 native elk calf births since launching its Elk Restoration Project in 2016.

“Our progress in cultivating a robust and sustainable elk herd under the leadership of Gov. Justice is a success story that every West Virginian can be proud of,” said WVDNR Director Brett McMillion. “Each elk release and native birth represents a triumph in our game management strategies, reaffirming our dedication to preserving West Virginia’s natural treasures for all to enjoy.”

Tomblin WMA Visitor Center and Elk Viewing Tower construction to start soon

In the coming weeks, construction of the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area Visitor Center and Elk Viewing Platform in Logan County, announced by Gov. Justice in February, will begin and bring millions of economic development activity to the surrounding region.

“This state-of-the-art facility is going to be a significant boost to the local economy by bringing thousands of visitors to southern West Virginia while supporting the WVDNR’s ongoing elk management efforts to sustain a healthy herd for future generations,” said James Bailey, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Commerce, which oversees the WVDNR.

The elk viewing tower will provide an elevated platform for enhanced viewing areas and a level viewing area that will be accessible to those with limited mobility. The adjacent visitor center will complement the elk viewing tower with more than 2,000 square feet of displays, conference facilities, offices and other amenities for visitors, volunteers, researchers and staff. There will also be more than 500 square feet dedicated to the history of the elk program and the reclaimed mine areas where they have been introduced.

Aside from the visitor center, the new facility will feature 3,300 square feet of space designed to meet the unique needs of managing and supporting West Virginia’s growing elk herd, including a lab with an enlarged exterior door and overhead crane system for handling elk, five large equipment bay doors, research facilities, labs and storage for supplies and equipment.

The new facility is anticipated to open in 2025.

About the Elk Restoration Project

The WVDNR launched its Elk Restoration Project in 2016 with the release of 24 elk acquired from the Land Between the Lakes. Since 2018, the WVDNR has introduced 57 elk (15 from Kentucky and 42 from Arizona) to the Tomblin Wildlife Management Area in Logan County.

To raise awareness about its elk restoration project, the WVDNR has offered guided elk tours in Logan County, where participants can learn more about the history of elk in West Virginia and get a chance to see elk in a natural setting. Tours are offered in September and October each year and often sell out.

(Photo credit: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources)

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Utah Seeks Feedback on 2024 Big Game Hunting Permits, Proposes Changes to Shed Hunting

https://www.rmef.org/elk-network/utah-seeks-feedback-on-2024-big-game-hunting-permits-proposes-changes-to-shed-hunting/

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is releasing its proposed big game hunting permit numbers for 2024 and is also proposing some changes to shed antler gathering in Utah. The DWR is asking for the public’s feedback on these recommendations, as well as on a variety of other proposals.

What impacts deer populations in Utah

There are a few factors that impact deer populations in Utah and can cause them to increase or decrease. Some of those factors include:

  • Weather and precipitation (either extreme, ongoing drought or really heavy snowfall during the winter)
  • Predator balance
  • The quality and quantity of available habitat (which can be impacted by weather as well)
  • Adult doe survival
  • Fawn survival
  • Fawn production

“It should be noted that harvesting buck deer does not drive deer populations,” DWR Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said. “That is a common misconception that we hear when we make permit number recommendations each year. The most important factors that drive deer population numbers are the survival rates of doe deer (since bucks don’t have babies), fawn production and fawn survival after the winter. The way we hunt buck deer in Utah doesn’t drive deer populations, but what happens with deer populations drives how we hunt buck deer.”

How deer permit recommendations are made

The DWR 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:

Buck-to-doe ratios established in the management plans for each area of the state (including the current estimates, three-year averages and overall trends). The buck-to-doe ratios are a good way to manage social preferences for hunting deer.

Current population estimates and demographics. (This data is collected through yearly surveys and classifications of deer herds.)

Data from GPS collars and body condition of the deer (measured during annual capture efforts), which helps estimate deer survival for the winter.

Hunter harvest rates from the prior hunting season (which can help with estimates for successful harvest in the upcoming year).

Habitat and environmental conditions across the state.

“Utah has 31 general-season deer hunting units that are managed for post-hunting season buck-to-doe ratios of 15–17 or 18–20 bucks per 100 does,” Mangus said. “The statewide average buck-to-doe ratio on public land, general-season deer hunting units was 21 bucks per 100 does after the 2023 hunting season. Good winter survival rates this year and high buck-to-doe ratios after last season puts us in a position where we can offer more buck deer hunting opportunities in 2024.”

The DWR is proposing the following for general-season deer permits in the various areas of Utah:

  • Northern Utah: Proposing an increase of 150 permits (about a 1% increase from last year).
  • Central Utah: Proposing a decrease of 75 permits (a 1% decrease from last year).
  • Southern Utah: Proposing an increase of 5,375 permits (about a 44% increase from last year).
  • Southeastern Utah: Proposing an increase of 400 permits (about a 3% increase from last year).
  • Northeastern Utah: Proposing an increase of 950 permits (about an 11% increase from last year).

DWR biologists are recommending a total of 71,525 general-season deer hunting permits, which is a 6,800-permit increase from the previous year.

“During our big game captures this last winter, we found that a majority of the deer throughout the state were healthy and in great condition with high body fat,” Mangus said. “Our animals with GPS collars are showing really high survival rates in both northern and southern Utah. We are anticipating excellent winter survival and are happy to see our deer populations starting to look better after being hit hard by the severe winter in 2022–23, especially in the northern parts of the state. Deer populations in southern Utah are looking great with their third consecutive year of high fawn production and survival rates. Biologists look closely at each hunting unit and individual situation when they make permit recommendations. We use the best available data and our management plans to make proactive recommendations for the herd health of our wildlife.”

Elk permit recommendations

The current statewide elk management plan includes an objective to have almost 80,000 elk across Utah — there are currently an estimated 80,600 elk in the state. DWR biologists are recommending a slight increase in public draw limited-entry bull elk permits and for the antlerless elk permits for the 2024 hunts.

Big game permit recommendations

The table below shows the permit recommendations for 2024, including those for the big game hunts, the once-in-a-lifetime hunts and the antlerless hunts:

Hunt                                                      2023 Permits     2024 Recommended Permits

General-season buck deer             64,725                 71,525

Limited-entry deer                           1,299                    1,339

Antlerless deer                                  530                        450

General-season any bull elk          15,000                

15,000 for adults in the early general-season any bull elk hunt (for any legal weapon and muzzleloader hunters)

Unlimited for youth

Unlimited for archery hunters

Unlimited for the general-season any bull late hunt (sold over the counter)

General-season spike bull elk       15,000                 15,000 (sold over the counter, with a cap of 4,500 multi-season permits)

Antlerless elk                                      19,857                 19,626

Youth draw-only any bull/hunter’s choice elk        750        750

Limited-entry bull elk                      3,336                    3,415

Buck pronghorn                                 1,351                    1,506

Doe pronghorn                                 155                        210

Bull moose                                          102                        101

Antlerless moose                              9                             12

Bison                                                     177                        94

Desert bighorn sheep                     75                           76

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep  52                           57

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ewe hunt  5         5

Mountain goat                                  94                           95

 

Antlerless permit recommendations

The DWR issues antlerless permits for big game species in Utah for several reasons:

  • To manage population size to the approved population objectives
  • For herd health, including reducing disease concerns in certain parts of the state
  • To improve the health of the habitat (and to avoid overgrazing)
  • To reduce conflicts on private property, including depredation issues

“Because reducing the number of female animals in a herd can reduce the overall population, all of Utah’s recommended doe deer hunts are designed to be very targeted to address localized areas of specific concern, conflicts, disease issues or public safety considerations,” Mangus said. “Currently, there are no doe deer hunts in Utah that are aimed at reducing the overall deer population on a hunting unit.”

Shed antler gathering recommendations

During the 2024 legislative session, HB382 was passed, which designates that the Utah Wildlife Board has the authority to make a few updates to shed hunting in Utah. Those include the option to establish a season for recreational antler or horn gathering for both residents and non-residents and designating rules regarding the commercial gathering and selling of shed antlers. The new law also establishes a restitution value for shed antlers at $30 per pound and provides definitions for shed antlers and horns.

The DWR also recently formed a committee of diverse stakeholders to examine shed antler gathering in Utah. Under the new legislation, the DWR is proposing a few changes to shed antler gathering, including:

  • No seasonal closures for Utah residents regarding shed antler gathering.
  • A season for non-residents that runs from May 1 to Dec. 31 each year.
  • Continuing to require the ethics course for residents and non-residents, and requiring it for any antler gathering between Jan. 1 and May 31 each year. The completion certificate must be carried (either digitally or physically) by the individual while gathering shed antlers.
  • Allowing for emergency closures of antler gathering that are triggered by emergency winter feeding. Any closures for shed hunting would be statewide. The only exception for this would be on private land if the shed antlers were interfering with normal agricultural practices.
  • Requiring a certification of registration for commercial antler buyers (an individual or entity that purchases shed antlers or shed horns for the purpose of reselling them for financial gain).
  • Clarifying the legality of antler markets (allowing people to modify and resell the antler if the antler was obtained legally).

Big game rule change proposals

The DWR is also proposing a few other changes to current big game rules, including:

  • Changing the rule language for night vision devices from “unlawful to use” to “unlawful to possess” while taking or locating big game from July 31 to Dec. 31, in order to make the rule enforceable for conservation officers.
  • Removing the language in the rule that requires aircraft to take off and land “only on improved airstrips,” due to the rule already containing multiple provisions to limit hunting from an aircraft.
  • Removing the requirement to plug bighorn sheep to make it easier for hunters and because the needed harvest data can be collected electronically.
  • Removing the requirement for hunters to check in management bucks and cactus bucks to make it easier for hunters and because the needed data can be collected electronically.

CWMU antlerless permit number recommendations

The DWR oversees the Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit program, which allocates hunting permits to private landowners who then provide hunting opportunities to public and private hunters for a variety of wildlife species. The CWMU program in Utah has opened more than 2 million acres of private land to the public for hunting.

If the DWR recommendation is accepted as proposed, there will be 9 fewer private antlerless permits, and an additional 104 public antlerless permits allocated to CWMUs for the 2024 hunting season, for a total of 138 private and 1,251 public antlerless CWMU permits. The rest of the CWMU permits for 2024 were already approved by the wildlife board in a previous meeting.

The DWR is also proposing to approve applications for one new CWMU, one application change for an existing CWMU, and renewing 44 other CWMU applications.

Give feedback

The public meetings for the recommendations can either be viewed virtually or attended in person. You can view the biologists’ presentations before the meetings and share your feedback about them on the DWR website. The presentations are also available on the DWR YouTube channel, but comments can only be submitted through the forms on the DWR website.

The public comment period opened on March 28 for each of the five Regional Advisory Council meetings and for the Utah Wildlife Board meeting. Public comments submitted within the online-comment timeframes listed below will be shared with the RAC and wildlife board members at each respective meeting. Members of the public can choose to either watch the meetings online or attend them in person. If you wish to comment during the meeting, you must attend in person. Online comments will only be accepted until the deadlines listed below.

The meetings will be held on the following dates and times:

  • Northern Utah RAC meeting: April 10 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission Chambers at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden. (Online comments must be submitted by April 4 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Central Utah RAC meeting: April 11 at 6 p.m. at the DWR Springville Office at 1115 N. Main St. in Springville. (Online comments must be submitted by April 4 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Southern Utah RAC meeting: April 16 at 6 p.m. in the Gilbert Great Hall (room 203) of the R. Haze Hunter Alumni Center at Southern Utah University at 405 W. University Blvd. in Cedar City. (Online comments must be submitted by April 10 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: April 17 at 6 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main St. in Green River. (Online comments must be submitted by April 10 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: April 18 at 6 p.m. at the DWR Vernal Office at 318 N. Vernal Ave. (Online comments must be submitted by April 10 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Utah Wildlife Board meeting: May 2 at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 1157 South Waterfowl Way in Farmington. (Online comments must be submitted by April 25 at 11:59 p.m.)

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

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