DWR recommends changes for 2022 upland game, turkey hunts
Salt Lake City — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending a few changes to turkey hunting and upland game hunting in Utah, as well as some other proposals, and is seeking the public's feedback on the recommendations.
Upland game and turkey hunting recommendations
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in coordination with the Utah Upland Game Plan Committee — which includes members from a variety of federal agencies, local universities, conservation groups and non-government organizations — is proposing an updated Utah Upland Game Management Plan. If approved, the plan will direct the management of several upland game species in the state for the next 10 years (from 2022–2032). The plan includes three goals, including:
- Population maintenance and monitoring harvest from hunting
- Habitat improvement and management
- Maintaining and increasing opportunities to hunt the various upland game species found in Utah
In addition to a new updated management plan, the DWR is also making some proposed changes to turkey hunting. Currently, you can purchase three either-sex permits for the fall turkey hunts. The fall turkey hunt was implemented in 2014 as a way to address ongoing nuisance turkey issues and depredation that result in damage to private property.
"Because these hunts are implemented to decrease the turkey populations in urban/agricultural areas, having hunters harvest female turkeys would be more beneficial to help decrease turkeys in those targeted locations," DWR Upland Game Coordinator Heather Talley said. "However, we noticed that a higher number of male turkeys are being harvested during these fall hunts than we expected."
As a result, the DWR is recommending to only allow each hunter to obtain two beardless turkey permits and one either-sex permit for the fall turkey hunts.
"We realize that some juvenile 'beardless' males, or jakes, will still be harvested during these fall hunts, but by reducing the harvest of bearded birds, it should lead to an overall increase in the harvest of female turkeys during these hunts. Having fewer females will help decrease the localized populations of these birds in urban areas during the winter months when they are most often a nuisance," Talley said. "Because the majority of fall turkey hunts occur on private property, nuisance turkeys that are not harvested will find refuge on public lands or private property where they are tolerated."
During the 2022 legislative session, the Utah Wildlife Board was directed to designate species that could be hunted with air rifles. As a result, the DWR is recommending that air rifles be allowed in hunting rabbits and hares and during the fall turkey hunts.
Proposed changes to Landowner Association permits
After a directive from the Utah Wildlife Board to look at ways to update the current Landowner Association program and its allocated hunting permits, the DWR created a diverse committee that had several meetings over the past year to address the issue. As a result, the DWR is proposing several changes to the general-season landowner permits, including:
- Instead of each region of the state receiving 600 general-season buck deer permits, those permits will be issued to landowners by unit.
- The permits will be allocated through a separate landowner drawing, where qualified landowner applicants can potentially receive up to five permits.
- Landowner appreciation permits will be combined with the landowner general-season buck deer permits.
- The landowner drawing will take place after the big game drawing, so landowners will know if they drew a permit.
- The landowner applicant that draws will receive a voucher that can be given to a qualifying individual to redeem.
- A landowner can qualify with 640 acres of deer habitat or 100 acres of cropland that deer are using.
Several changes were also proposed to landowner limited-entry vouchers:
- Vouchers given to LOAs will be determined by the percentage of LOA land in the species' habitat.
- There are two potential options for public access:
- Access will be awarded to public hunters by the DWR and will equal the number of private vouchers the LOA receives. Those who receive the vouchers will be able to hunt the entire unit.
- LOAs would retain 80% of the vouchers, but the vouchers would only be valid on private land enrolled in the LOA. The other 20% of the vouchers would go to public hunters, who would receive access to the private LOA lands.
- LOA presidents will be required to attend training each year.
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 May 3 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: May 10 at 6 p.m. at the DWR Springville Office at 1115 N. Main St. in Springville. (Online comments must be submitted by May 5 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northern Utah RAC meeting: May 11 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission Chambers at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden. (Online comments must be submitted by May 5 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southern Utah RAC meeting: May 17 at 6 p.m. at the DNR Richfield City Complex at 2031 Industrial Park Road in Richfield. (Online comments must be submitted by May 12 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 18 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 May 12 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the DWR Vernal Office at 318 N. Vernal Ave. (Online comments must be submitted by May 12 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Utah Wildlife Board meeting: June 2 at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 1157 South Waterfowl Way in Farmington. (Online comments must be submitted by May 26 at 11:59 p.m.)