DWR seeking input on future big game hunts

Several big game populations are doing quite well in portions of Utah, and biologists from the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are recommending an increase in permits for hunts this fall, depending where you live.

“The total statewide deer population increased by about 8,850 animals,” according to Covy Jones, DWR big game coordinator.

Biologists typically track deer survival rates from Dec. 1 to Nov. 30. And while they are currently only about a third of the way through their survival monitoring year, the majority of deer deaths occur during the winter. They are happy that the survival rate is at 92%, according to DWR big game projects coordinator Kent Hersey.

While most of the population increase occurred in the central and northern portions of the state, deer in Cache and Kamas/Chalk Creek areas didn’t fare as well.

“This is an above-average mortality year for the northern third of the state, but we have had worse,” Hersey said. “For the Cache County area, we have had much worse adult survival, but the Cache fawn mortality rates are well above average. For the area around Echo Reservoir, adult mortality appears quite high and this is concerning.”

While the majority of deer deaths occur during the winter when it’s hard for them to find food, winter-related deaths can still occur through April, Hersey said. However, as the temperatures increase, the snow melts and vegetation starts growing, the deaths start to decline.

“The deer in the Cache District have had a harder time surviving this winter than anywhere else in the state,” according to Jim Christensen, a DWR wildlife biologist. “The hot dry summer last year didn’t help the deer going in to winter. With the snow that we had this year that persisted so long in to March, we did see some losses,” he said.

“Over in Rich County, there’s still a couple of feet of snow and snow storms this late in the spring really make it hard for a deer to survive,” Christensen said.

Biologists from the DWR will not be recommending an increase in permits for big game hunters in the Cache Valley area for 2019, and are asking for public feedback during an upcoming Regional Advisory Council meeting.

The Northern RAC meeting will be held April 10 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission building at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden.

The public is invited to give feedback via email or by attending the meeting. “We consider everyone’s comments,” Christensen said.

All of the proposed changes can be viewed on the DWR website.

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