DWR proposes changes to upland game hunting season dates and to allow airguns for hunting turkeys, rabbits
Update: The RAC feedback submission deadline for each of the DWR regions has been moved up one day to allow council members three full days to review submitted feedback. The Utah Wildlife Board feedback deadline has been moved up one day as well. The corrected deadline dates are shown below.
Salt Lake City — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing several changes to upland game and turkey hunting in the state, including a recommendation that would allow airguns during the fall turkey hunts and throughout the rabbit and hare seasons. The DWR is also proposing changes to some season dates for upland game, as well as a few other proposals. The public can watch the biologists' presentations and give their feedback online about each of the proposals.
Upland game and turkey hunting proposals
The DWR is proposing to slightly change the season dates for several upland game species. The proposed changes would include:
- Starting the ptarmigan hunting season on Sept. 1 rather than the fourth Saturday in August
- Extending the sandhill crane hunting season in the East Box Elder area from nine to 60 days (to reduce crop damage and encourage the birds to migrate sooner)
- Holding the youth quail hunt on the last Saturday in October through the following Monday
- Extending the youth pheasant season and having it run from the last Saturday in October through the following Thursday
"The statewide youth quail and pheasant hunts have been underutilized for years," DWR Upland Game Coordinator Heather Talley said. "The youth quail hunt has traditionally been held beginning on the Saturday closest to Oct. 13, and we hope that moving the season dates closer to the general-season opener will increase participation in these hunts. We are also proposing to extend the youth pheasant hunt through the first Thursday in November. Many youth hunt on areas where we release pen-reared pheasants, and we would like to give them the opportunity to harvest these birds throughout the week."
Another proposal includes a rule change to allow airguns as a legal method of hunting for turkeys in the fall season only, as well as for hunting rabbits and hares. The air rifle would be a firearm that fires a single projectile with compressed air released from a chamber, and would be required to be a .22 caliber or larger and could fire either a pellet or slug or a broadhead-tipped bolt or arrow.
Other proposals for upland game and turkey hunting include:
- Extending the Utah Wild Turkey Management Plan for three more years. Because it was originally approved as a six-year plan, it is due for revision this year; however, no significant changes are needed at this time.
- Allowing translocation of sage-grouse broods during the summer (between May 1 and July 31) or any time of the year. Previously, only spring translocations of adults have been approved, but this proposal would give DWR biologists a chance to finish their population counts during the spring when the birds are breeding. That would allow biologists to more accurately confirm population numbers and stability before birds are relocated from an area to augment a population in another part of the state. DWR biologists are also proposing that the sage grouse relocations can include adults and/or chicks to provide the best chance of success for augmenting populations.
- Closing Wildlife Management Areas as needed for DWR-sponsored and co-sponsored public events, including for several youth pheasant hunts throughout the state.
- Clarifying the rules for tagging harvested swans. The proposed clarification states that a hunter can retrieve the carcass prior to tagging it.
Aquatic invasive species proposals
This DWR proposal incorporates a new law passed during the 2020 legislative session to help prevent invasive quagga mussels from spreading throughout Utah. The new law, which takes effect July 1, includes a $20 fee for non-resident boaters who launch a watercraft on any waterbody in Utah. The law also requires all boat owners to complete an online education course about preventing the spread of quagga mussels, and to show proof of the course completion before they launch at a Utah waterbody.
In addition, the new law requires anyone transporting a boat on a Utah highway, which includes any public road, street, bridge or other public-use structure, to remove all drain plugs from the boat and to drain all water from the live wells, bilges, ballast tanks or other similar compartments on the watercraft. Boats must be transported with all drain plugs removed. Anyone who fails to do so could be cited with a class C misdemeanor.
Along with adding the new law to administrative rule, the DWR proposal also includes a rule clarification about watercraft with complex mechanical or water systems. Any watercraft with systems that cannot be fully drained at the boat launch are required to complete a mandatory 30-day dry time, even after receiving a professional hot-water decontamination, if DWR personnel determine that there is still a risk of quagga mussels remaining. The DWR is also proposing an administrative rule to prohibit the alteration of an attached seal or inspection sticker on a boat.
The DWR oversees a Walk-in Access program in Utah that provides hunters and anglers access to privately held lands and waters for the purpose of hunting, trapping, and fishing. The DWR is proposing some rule changes to simplify the program, update administrative procedures, clarify rule requirements and expectations and expand hunting and fishing opportunities.
In order to follow health officials' recommendations of avoiding large gatherings to decrease the spread of COVID-19, the public meetings for these proposals will be held online. You can view the biologists' presentations and share your feedback about them here on the DWR website. The presentations can also be viewed on the DWR YouTube Channel, but comments can only be submitted through the forms on the DWR website.
The public comment period for each of the Regional Advisory Council meetings opened May 5 and will close at 11:59 p.m. three days prior to each respective meeting. The public comment period for the Utah Wildlife Board meeting also opened May 5, but will close at 11:59 p.m. six days prior to the meeting. The public comments previously submitted will be shared with the RAC and Wildlife Board members. There will be no public comments accepted during these electronic meetings.
Watch the meetings online
Meetings will be held on the following dates and times.
- Central Utah RAC meeting: May 12 at 6:00 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 8 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northern Utah RAC meeting: May 13 at 6:00 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 9 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southern Utah RAC meeting: May 19 at 7:00 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 15 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 20 at 6:30 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 16 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 21 at 6:30 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 17 at 11:59 p.m.)
- Utah Wildlife Board meeting: June 4 at 9:00 a.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 29 at 11:59 p.m.)