DWR closes 24 wildlife management areas to help protect wintering deer in northern, central Utah
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Swan Creek Wildlife Management Area entrance sign in deep snow

DWR closes 24 wildlife management areas to help protect wintering deer in northern, central Utah

Salt Lake City — While many wildlife management areas in northern Utah are currently scheduled to reopen to public access on April 8, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is extending their closure through April 30 — and also closing additional WMAs in central Utah through the end of April — in an effort to help protect wintering deer and other big game in these areas.

Swan Creek Wildlife Management Area entrance sign in deep snow

There are 194 wildlife and waterfowl management areas in Utah. The DWR started acquiring the areas in the late 1940s for several reasons:

  • To conserve critical habitats for wildlife
  • To help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property
  • To provide anglers and hunters — who provide funding for the WMAs through the purchase of a fishing or hunting license — a place to hunt and fish in Utah

Utah's wildlife often struggles to find food during the winter, and some animals — like deer and elk — rely heavily on the body fat reserves they built up during the previous summer. Mid-winter and early spring are especially vulnerable times for these animals.

"While most of the deer had good body fat conditions going into winter, we're seeing variations in fawn and doe survival throughout different parts of the state, depending on the severity of the snowfall and winter conditions," DWR Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus said. "Unfortunately, the deer herds in the northern areas of the state were hit pretty hard this winter, and despite our feeding efforts, we are seeing high mortality rates in some areas. In these types of conditions, big game animals are weakened and highly vulnerable to repeated, ongoing human-caused disturbances, so we'd like to prevent any unnecessary disturbances to the deer during this sensitive time of year."

As a result, effective immediately, the following WMAs will be closed to all public access through April 30:

Northern Utah

  • Brigham Face WMA in Box Elder County
  • Coldwater Canyon WMA in Box Elder County
  • Richmond WMA in Cache County
  • Millville-Providence WMA in Cache County
  • Hardware WMA in Cache County
  • Dry Canyon Conservation Easement in Cache County
  • East Canyon WMA in Morgan County
  • Swan Creek WMA in Rich County
  • Woodruff Co-Op WMA in Rich County
  • Kamas WMA in Summit County
  • Henefer-Echo WMA in Summit County
  • Middle Fork WMA in Weber County

Central Utah

  • Wallsburg WMA in Wasatch County
  • Timpanogos WMA in Utah County (however, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which cuts through the lower portion of the WMA, will still be open to public access.)
  • Dairy Fork WMA in Utah County
  • Lake Fork WMA in Utah County
  • Birdseye WMA in Utah County
  • Lasson Draw WMA in Utah County
  • Spencer Fork WMA in Utah and Sanpete counties
  • Pine Canyon Conservation Easement in Tooele County
  • Santaquin WMA in Utah and Juab counties
  • Mona Bench WMA in Juab County
  • Big Hollow WMA in Sanpete County
  • Christensen Spring WMA in Sanpete County

"These properties are public land, but they are not multiple use like many other state- and federally-owned properties," DWR Habitat Section Chief Eric Edgley said. "While we would like to provide recreational opportunities on our WMAs in April, we need to protect vulnerable wildlife populations that have been impacted by the severe winter conditions."

DWR conservation officers will increase their presence on the WMAs to ensure compliance with the closures.

To learn more about the wildlife management areas and waterfowl management areas in Utah, visit the DWR website.

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