State wildlife officials are proposing 500 fewer deer-hunting permits this year as they prepare for Utah's new 30-unit management program.
Biologists have been crunching the numbers for months after the Utah Wildlife Board opted in December to switch from a general season deer hunt with five regions to one with 30 units.
Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) officials have devised a proposed number of permits for each of the 30 units and will share the details, starting Tuesday, at a series of meetings across the state. In addition to serving as informational sessions, public comments about the proposals will be shared with the Wildlife Board before final numbers are approved.
"The hardest part was coming up with the starting point," said Anis Aoude, big-game coordinator for DWR. "It actually wasn't too difficult, just time consuming. We already collect harvest data on a unit-by-unit basis so that helped."
Aoude said biologists tapped hunter-success rates for the past three years to craft baseline numbers and then adjusted accordingly depending on the buck-to-doe ratio objectives for each location.
If the Wildlife Board approves the proposed numbers May 3, Utah will have about 500 fewer permits for the 2012 general season deer hunt.
Hunters proposed the 30-unit hunt in hopes that herd management and permit numbers from smaller areas might improve Utah's overall deer population.
Biologists use buck-to-doe ratios as a tool to decide opportunities for average hunters lower ratios and for trophy hunters higher ratios.
Reducing hunting permit numbers is the best way to achieve higher buck-to-doe ratios. The DWR is proposing 14 of the 30 units be managed with an objective of 15 to 17 bucks per 100 does. The 16 other units would have a slightly higher ratio of 18 to 20 bucks per 100 does.
"It is a step in the right direction," said Tye Boulter, president of the United Wildlife Cooperative. "We are supporting the DWR recommendations as a whole and will express our thoughts about units we have concerns with at the meetings. We feel the recommendations are based on sound facts and will not be detrimental to our herds."
The United Wildlife Cooperative has more than 1,800 members who "experience wildlife in its natural setting" and includes, but is not limited to, hunters.
Boulter encourages Utahns to examine the proposed numbers available on the Web at http://tinyurl.com/bs24go5 and to attend the meetings.
"It is important for people to attend to understand what is really going on," he said. "There is a lot of misinformation spread by word of mouth and on the Web. The meetings are a chance to become educated about the issues and for people to feel like they have a voice in the process."
While the deadline to apply for general season deer hunt permits has passed, the odds of drawing those permits will be decided in the coming weeks as the numbers are debated.
By the numbers
If the Division of Wildlife Resources' plan is approved, Utah will have 500 fewer permits to hunt deer during the 2012 general season.
Hunt • Number of permits
Archery • 16,000
Rifle and muzzleloader • 71,000
Total • 87,000
Hunt • Number of permits
Archery • 17,300
Rifle • 51,900
Muzzleloader • 17,300
Total • 86,500
The Division of Wildlife Resources is holding the following meetings to share its proposed hunting permit numbers for the new 30-unit deer-management format.
Tuesday • Southern Region, Beaver High, 195 E. Center St., Beaver, 5 p.m.
Wednesday • Southeastern Region, College of Eastern Utah, Jennifer M. Leavitt Room, 451 E. 400 North, Price, 5 p.m.
Thursday • Northeastern Region, Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center, 320 N. 2000 West, Vernal, 5 p.m.
April 17 • Central Region, Springville Library, 45 S. Main St., Springville, 6:30 p.m.
April 18 • Northern Region, Brigham City Community Center, 24 N. 300 West, Brigham City, 6 p.m.