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SPRINGVILLE, Utah (AP) -- Discussion of a proposal to give away 200 hunting permits in about 50 hunts to attract national conventions to Utah drew more than 1,000 people.
Permit winners still would be required to pay the regular permit fees.
Several conservation groups contend the taxes generated by the giveaways could raise millions for habitat improvement and other conservation goals.
Hunters and representatives from hunting and wildlife organizations spoke on both sides of the issue Tuesday night at a meeting of the Central Region Advisory Council.
The Utah Wildlife Board is expected to make a decision on the proposal next month.
Alan Clark of the Division of Wildlife Resources said that under the proposal, an umbrella organization of conservation groups would be given the permits for five years to entice more conservation organizations to hold their national conventions in Utah. The umbrella organization could then split the 200 tickets among the conventions, each of which would have to be designed to draw at least 10,000 participants.
Conservation groups would be allowed to charge $5 per permit drawing in up to 50 hunt categories. Those groups would be free to use that money in whatever way they wish but have historically spent millions on conservation projects in Utah, Clark said.
Opponents said the plan would take away hunting opportunities for Utah residents.
"Most people have concerns that these permits are being taken away from the general public," said advisory council member Dennis Shirley.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)