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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has a wide variety of wildlife throughout the state, which impacts the state’s economy by providing revenue through hunting and fishing.
The Division of Wildlife Resources monitor the wildlife in Utah to help them maintain healthy herd sizes while also giving people the opportunity to hunt. The division utilizes the hunting permits to regulate the populations of deer, elk and wild turkey, among other species.
“We strive to maintain viable, or self-sustaining, populations that do not negatively impact their forage resource, nor agriculture,” DWR wildlife section chief Bill Bates said. “Also, funds derived from hunting permits are used to fund management activities, such as law enforcement, research, as well as restoration of habitat and wildlife populations through transplants.”
DWR biologists also conduct surveys each year to estimate population numbers and trends, Bates said.
“Vital populations statistics are used to set permit numbers, such as the average age of harvested animals, adult survival, male-to-female ratios, birth rates, or the percent of females in the harvest, depending on the species,” Bates said. “Management strategies are based on applied research projects. Biologists make recommendations to preserve base populations. Those recommendations receive public input through the Regional Advisory Councils. Permit numbers are eventually set by the Wildlife Board after weighing both biological and social factors.”
Here is a look at the wildlife statistics for 2013, the most recent year with compiled data.
Fish stocked in Utah
DWR stocks Utah reservoirs and lakes with 13 different varieties of fish. In 2013, rainbow trout were the highest stocked fish in Utah with 3.9 million fish being stocked throughout the state, according to the Utah Fish Stocking Report. Cutthroats were the next most stocked fish with 1.5 million.
Almost 717,000 kokanees were stocked in 2013, followed by 401,000 tiger trout. More than 7.9 million fish of 13 different species were stocked throughout Utah in 2013, according to the report.
Each year, thousands of hunting permits are sold throughout Utah. The money from those permits goes back into the DWR program to help regulate and monitor the wildlife.
In 2013, 29,270 mule deer were legally taken in the state. In 2014, there were 316 illegally taken big game animals that had a total aggregate value of $487,250, according to DWR Captain Mitch Lane.
DWR public relations officer Mark Hadley said the number of mule deer has increased throughout the state over the last few years.
“After the hunting seasons are over each fall, our biologists survey the deer populations,” Hadley said. “Based on surveys conducted after the 2013 season, we estimated the population at 332,900 deer. That's the highest number of deer in Utah since 2000. After the 2000 hunts were over, surveys turned up an estimated 322,000 deer.”
Mule deer are often transported to different areas around the state in an effort to spread herds that are too large and overgrazing. DWR officials transported 256 mule deer during 2013-2014, according to DWR employee Justin Shannon.
Small game legally, illegally killed
A variety of small game hunting licenses are also offered in Utah. DWR migratory game bird coordinator Blair Stringham said in 2013 there were around 19,000 adult hunters and 1,000 youth hunters who hunted small game in Utah, generating around $485,000 from permits.
In 2010, it is estimated that waterfowl hunters alone spent $26.5 million in hunting expenditures and $35.4 million in other hunting equipment expenditures in the Salt Lake City area, according to a Bioeconomics, Inc. report.
Officials provided a breakdown of the numbers for legally killed small game and the number of hunters who went afield for upland game during the 2013-2014 season.
- Band-tailed pigeon: 27
- California quail: 2,626
- Chukar partridge: 25,973
- Cottontail rabbit: 29,353
- Dove: 77,616
- Forest grouse: 26,891
- Gambel's quail: 1,341
- Gray partridge: 1,263
- Greater sage-grouse: 565
- Ring-necked pheasant: 38,028
- Sandhill crane: 96
- Sharp-tailed grouse: 124
- Snowshoe hare: 384
- White-tailed ptarmigan: 18
- Wild turkey: 2,914
- Ducks: 184,346
- Geese: 17,618
- Swans: 348
Lane said there were 189 small game killed illegally, totalling an aggregate value of $6,305.