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SALT LAKE CITY — Due to the thriving population of mule deer throughout Utah, on April 30, Utah Wildlife Board members approved adding nearly 2,000 permits for the general deer hunt this fall.
A total of 86,550 permits will be available for the 2015 general deer hunt, an increase from 84,800 general-season permits in 2014, according to a Division of Wildlife Resources news release. The Utah Wildlife Board also approved 1,058 limited-entry deer permits. In 2014, a total of 811 were available.
Most of the additional permits would be for a high-country buck deer hunt on Unit 8a (the North Slope/Summit unit.) DWR big game coordinator Justin Shannon said the deer population on Unit 8a includes some large bucks, but many of them head to Wyoming before the general rifle hunt begins. As a result, the 2015 high-country buck deer hunt will be held from Oct. 3-15.
Biologists base their deer hunting permit recommendations on classifications they make each year to determine how many bucks, does and fawns are in the herds, according to a DWR news release. After the 2014 hunts, biologists saw an average of 21 bucks for every 100 does on general-season units that are comprised mostly of public land. Twenty years ago, the average buck-to-doe ratio was eight bucks per 100 does, the DWR said.
DWR biologists manage 14 of Utah’s 30 general-season units for 15 to 17 bucks per 100 does. The remaining 16 units are managed for 18 to 20 bucks per 100 does, the DWR said.
Total number of permits approved:
|General buck deer||84,800||86,550|
|Premium limited-entry deer||183||184|
|Management buck deer||49||46|
|Limited entry deer||811||1,058|
|General any bull elk||14,300||14,300|
|Youth any bull elk||300||500|
|Late-season youth any bull elk||20||15|
|General spike bull elk||15,000||15,000|
|Limited entry bull elk||2,842||2,938|
|Desert bighorn sheep||40||41|
|Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep||38||37|
“So, to be at a statewide average of 21 bucks per 100 does is great news for Utah’s hunters,” Shannon said in the news release. “It means the herds have plenty of bucks in them.”
Based on surveys after the 2014 hunts, biologists estimate the total number of deer in Utah at 355,600 — approximately a 22,000 deer increase from the 2013 hunts. After using tracking radio collars, biologists also estimate that 84 percent of the does in Utah and 82 percent of the fawns survived during 2014, DWR said.
Biologists believe several factors have helped the deer populations increase in Utah: Mild winters have allowed the deer to survive until spring; Highway fencing and underpasses are allowing deer to safely cross major highways and DWR long-term habitat projects and predator control are also helping to increase the deer population, the news release said.
Results of Utah’s big game permit draw will be available by May 29.