DWR proposes moving elk permits to the big game drawing, other hunting changes
Salt Lake City — Because of increased public interest in elk hunting — and to avoid overloading its permit sales system — the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing to add general-season elk permits to the big game drawing for one year. (In past years, these permits have been sold online and over the counter.) The public can provide feedback on this and other proposals on the DWR website.
Elk permit recommendation
The demand to hunt big game in Utah has increased over the past few years. The general-season any bull elk and spike bull elk permits have traditionally been sold online, over the counter at DWR offices and at a variety of retail locations. These elk permits, in particular, have grown in popularity over the last three years:
- In 2019, all 15,000 permits sold out in 11 days.
- In 2020, the 15,000 permits sold out in eight hours. (This was also a record sales year for hunting and fishing permits in Utah.)
- This year, the 17,500 permits sold out in 10 hours.
"The increased demand for these permits has caused an overload to the license sales system for the past two years, which has led to slower processing times and a frustrating customer experience," DWR Wildlife Licensing Coordinator Lindy Varney said. "Our current contracted sales system does well during the rest of the year, but these 'sales days' for the elk permits causes a buying rush that overloads the system a few days a year. We have been working with our contractor to address some of the technical issues, including pursuing a database capability expansion."
In an effort to resolve some of those frustrations in the interim, the DWR is recommending to include the general-season any bull elk and spike elk permits in the big game drawing (rather than selling the permits online or over the counter) for a one-year trial period.
"During this one-year trial period, we will assess the pros and cons of the current system compared to including the permits in the big game drawing," Varney said. "We will also work with the statewide elk committee to improve the permit process. Then, we will recommend a long-term solution in 2022 that we hope will alleviate the issues our customers have experienced in recent years."
2022 big game hunting season date recommendations and new proposed hunts
The DWR is recommending to leave the five-day extension on the archery any bull elk hunt until the 2022 season. This extension was a recommendation from the public that was approved last year for a two-year period until the statewide elk plan is revised in 2022. No major changes are being recommended for deer hunting season dates for the 2022 season.
Only minor changes are being recommended for the 2022 big game season:
- A new late season, limited-entry muzzleloader deer hunt in the South Slope, Myton Unit from Nov. 12–27. This hunt would help control the prevalence of chronic wasting disease in this area by targeting mature bucks, which are twice as likely to contract and spread chronic wasting disease.
- An extended archery deer hunt in the Box Elder, West Bear River Unit from Sept. 17 to Nov. 30.
- A pronghorn muzzleloader hunt in the South Slope, Vernal Unit from Sept. 28 to Oct. 6.
Proposed changes to waterfowl hunting for 2022–24
The DWR is proposing another three-year recommendation cycle for waterfowl hunting regulations, so the proposed bag limits and season dates would be in effect during the 2022–24 waterfowl hunting seasons.
"We typically don't have very many changes with waterfowl hunting in Utah because the population numbers remain fairly consistent and because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes the final decision on bag limits and season dates based on flyway harvest strategies," DWR Migratory Game Bird Program Coordinator Blair Stringham said.
Utah's swan hunting season had to close early for the past two years, after hunters reached the federal quota of 20 trumpeter swans before the season ended. As a result, the DWR is recommending a required annual orientation course for anyone applying for a swan hunting permit.
The DWR is also proposing to change the name of the "Wilson's snipe hunt" to "snipe hunt" to give hunters more leeway in hunting all six species of snipe in Utah.
Maximum-point permit allocation recommendation
The DWR is also proposing a change to the permit allocation for maximum-point applicants. Currently, 50% of the limited-entry and once-in-a-lifetime permits are offered to the maximum-point applicants, with the other 50% of those permits going to other applicants. In an effort to move more maximum-point applicants through the drawing system, the DWR is recommending increasing the percentage offered to maximum-point applicants to 60%.
CWMU and Landowner Association 2022 permit recommendations
The Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit program is a DWR program that 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. The program provides an incentive to landowners to maintain their land as open spaces, improve the areas that serve as wildlife habitat and work with the DWR to manage for increased wildlife populations.
For 2022, there were 30 applicants for the CWMU program. The DWR is recommending the following to be approved:
- 18 renewal applications (properties were previously CWMUs)
- 8 new applications
- 4 change applications (which require approval from the Utah Wildlife Board)
If approved, there will be a total of 132 CWMUs throughout Utah. The DWR is recommending that a total of 2,858 private permits and 466 public permits be allocated for the CWMUs.
The DWR also oversees the Landowner Association program. This program provides an opportunity for landowners whose properties are located on limited-entry hunting units and provide habitat for deer, elk or pronghorn. Depending on the amount of private land enrolled in the LOA program, the association receives a percentage of the total number of limited-entry permits for bull elk, buck deer or buck pronghorn on the unit where the association properties are located.
The proposed changes for the LOA program for 2022 include renewing one application with a request of seven buck deer permits and approving a change request for an additional bull elk tag for the next two years.
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 Nov. 2 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 should 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:
- Central Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. at the DWR Springville Office at 1115 N. Main St. in Springville. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 4 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission Chambers at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 4 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. at the Hunter Conference Center, Charles Hunter Room at Southern Utah University at 405 W. University Blvd. in Cedar City. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 11 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main St. in Green River. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 11 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the DWR Vernal Office at 318 N. Vernal Ave. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 11 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Utah Wildlife Board meeting: Dec. 2 at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 1157 South Waterfowl Way in Farmington. (Online comments must be submitted by Nov. 22 at 11:59 p.m.)