The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) released a new 10-year plan to manage elk populations recently and is currently soliciting feedback from the public on the proposed changes.
Along with changes to hunting season dates and the number of permits issued, the plan would modify elk hunting.
“We evaluated a lot of different options, trade-offs, and ultimately, in the end, have drafted some really innovative new strategies to help with elk management moving forward,” said Dax Mangus, DWR’s big game coordinator in a video published Tuesday (see above).
Here are some of the changes that are included in the new plan:
GENERAL-SEASON HUNTING CHANGES
- Adding six additional general-season hunting units to the any bull elk hunt.
- Dividing the current general-season 13-day any legal weapon any bull hunt into two separate seven-day hunts.
- Issuing 15,000 general-season permits for the early season any-legal-weapon any bull hunt.
- Having no cap on permit numbers for the late season any-legal-weapon any bull hunt.
- Capping multi-season any bull permits at 7,500.
- Expanding the general spike hunt to the Diamond Mountain unit.
- Continuing to issue 15,000 spike bull permits each year, with a cap of 4,500 available as multi-season permits.
- Creating an unlimited youth general-season elk permit that will be valid during all general seasons on both any bull and spike units.
LIMITED-ENTRY HUNTING CHANGES
- Restructuring the harvest age objectives for traditional limited-entry units to include three age objectives: 6 ½ to 7 years old, 6 to 6 ½ years old and 5 ½ to 6 years old.
- Adding the mid-season any legal weapon hunt on most traditional limited-entry elk units.
- Adjusting the weapon splits for traditional limited-entry hunts to place more of the any-legal-weapon hunts in the mid-season hunt.
- Moving the season dates for the beginning of the hunt and end of the traditional limited-entry archery season to four days later than in past years.
- Adjusting the length of the early any-legal-weapon traditional limited-entry elk hunt to five days long.
- Maximizing hunting opportunities by maintaining the units/hunts managed for restricted-weapon hunts, September archery hunts and HAMS hunts (hunts that allow the use of handgun, archery, muzzleloader, and shotgun).
- Developing and recommending adaptive opportunity limited-entry hunts to seize unusual opportunities. Examples include December archery hunts on limited-entry units, additional restricted weapon or HAMS hunts on units with very high success rates and/or high bull-to-cow ratios, and limited-entry hunts on general-season units using unique timing or the migration of available bulls.
“The major theme for the elk plan committee — and the resulting proposed plan — has been to increase elk hunting opportunity, while maintaining quality, through increased challenge and creativity,” Mangus said.
“We believe these proposed changes will help reach those goals. The recommended changes are all related and provide synergy to the overall management plan, with the general-season hunt changes providing additional opportunities and the limited-entry changes helping maintain the quality of the hunt,” he continued.
As mentioned, Utah hunters are encouraged to lend their $.02 to the DWR. To do so click HERE. And to learn more about the DWR’s new plan, including proposed changes to weapon technologies, click HERE.