Wildlife News

New bear plan ready for review

DWR seeks input about proposed plan

A plan that will guide how black bears are managed in Utah for the next 12 years is available for review.

Black bear
The proposed bear plan could guide how black bears are managed in Utah for the next 12 years.

Photo by Ron Stewart©

You can read the proposed plan at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.

The following are among the plan's highlights:

  • Currently, most bear hunters in Utah use hounds to track and tree bears.

    While hunting with hounds would continue under the new plan, some areas of the state may become spot-and-stalk-only areas.

    Hounds may not be used during spot-and-stalk hunts.
  • To help biologists focus hunters on bears that are killing livestock and raiding campgrounds, the new plan would create harvest-objective areas.

    Currently, all of Utah's bear hunting areas are limited-entry areas. Only those who draw a permit for a limited-entry area can hunt on it.

    Under the new plan, some of the limited-entry areas would become harvest-objective areas. The number of hunters who can hunt on a harvest-objective area isn't limited, so switching an area to harvest objective would increase the number of people who can hunt the area. Letting more hunters hunt an area would increase the chance that a set number of bears were taken.

    As soon as the set number of bears was taken (called the area's quota), the hunt on the area would end for the season.
  • Bait could still be used by archery hunters to lure bears in close enough for a clean and effective shot.
  • Currently, three factors are used to determine the health of Utah's bear population—the percentage of females taken by hunters, the average age of the bears taken and the number of adult bears that survive from year to year.

The new plan would eliminate these three factors. In their place, the key factors would be:

  • The number of females and the number of adult males that hunters take.

    (An adult male bear is a bear that's five years of age or older.)

    Justin Dolling, game mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the number of females and adult males that hunters take gives important information about how a bear population is doing.

    "The number of females is important because females give birth to and care for the cubs," Dolling says. "But the number of adult males hunters take is the best early indicator we have about the health of a bear population."

    Dolling says hunters usually find adult males because adult males wander more than the other age groups. "You know a bear population is in decline if the number of adult males hunters take is going down and the number of females is going up," he says.
  • Results from two important bear studies would also be used in the new management system.

    One study involves snagging hair from bears at sites across Utah and then using DNA tests to determine how often bears are visiting the research sites. This study is helping biologists determine the total number of bears in Utah and helping them measure the growth rate of the state's population.

    The second study involves visiting bear dens in the winter to see how many cubs are in the dens and to assess the health of the cubs and their mothers. This study is giving biologists important information about the number of bears that are being brought into Utah's population each year.

A 10-member group called the Utah Black Bear Advisory Committee compiled the new plan. The committee's members are listed at the start of the plan.

Learn more, share your ideas

After you've reviewed the plan at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an e-mail to them.

RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4 to approve the plan.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

  • Southern Region
    Dec. 7, 5 p.m.
    Beaver High School
    195 E Center ST, Beaver
  • Southeastern Region
    Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m.
    John Wesley Powell Museum
    1765 E Main Street, Green River
  • Northeastern Region
    Dec. 9, 6:30 p.m.
    Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center
    320 N Aggie Blvd (2000 W), Vernal
  • Central Region
    Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m.
    Central Region Conference Center
    1115 N Main ST, Springville
  • Northern Region
    Dec. 15, 6 p.m.
    Brigham City Community Center
    24 N 300 W, Brigham City


You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e-mail. E-mail addresses for your RAC members are available at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.

The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's e-mail address. You should direct your e-mail to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.

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