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Utah DWR Proposes More Antlerless Elk, Deer, and Pronghorn Permits

April 21, 2009.

From the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources:

Pronghorn and deer are doing really well in various parts of Utah. And elk are doing well across the state!

While it's exciting to see lots of big game animals, having a large number of animals can have a downside, too — if the populations get too big, the animals can damage their habitat.

To try and prevent this from occurring, biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending more doe pronghorn, doe deer and cow elk permits for hunts this fall and winter.



The number of elk in Utah continues to grow.

"Each winter, our biologists fly over different elk units to estimate how many elk are in the herds," says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR. "After flights this past winter, we estimate Utah's elk population at 67,805 animals. That's up about 2,000 elk from the 65,880 elk we estimated during the winter of 2008."

Because some of Utah's elk units are at or above their population objective, DWR biologists are recommending more cow elk permits this year.

Biologists are recommending 11,146 cow elk permits. In 2008, a total of 10,569 permits were available.


Just like the elk herds on most of the state's units, the pronghorn population on the Plateau unit in southwestern Utah is also above its population objective.

After surveys this past winter, DWR biologists estimate the unit's pronghorn population at 2,700 animals.

The goal for the unit is 1,500 pronghorn.

"The habitat on this unit can actually support more pronghorn than the population objective for the unit allows it to," Aoude says. "That's why this unit is always over objective."

Biologists are recommending a total of 1,107 pronghorn permits for Utah's 12 pronghorn units and subunits. In 2008, a total of 727 permits were available.


While many deer herds in Utah are below their population goal, herds on four units in southwestern Utah, the Panguitch Lake, Paunsaugunt, Pine Valley and Zion units, are above their objective.

"We use several factors to set the population objective for each unit," Aoude says. "One of those factors is the amount of habitat that's available. If the number of deer on a unit gets too large, the deer can damage their habitat."

This chart shows the population goal for the four units. It also shows the number of deer that biologists estimate were on the units after the 2008 hunts:

  Plan population objective Population estimate
after 2008 hunts
Panguitch Lake 8,500 10,000
Paunsaugunt 5,200 6,000
Pine Valley 12,800 13,400
Zion 9,000 9,500

Biologists are recommending a total of 2,275 doe deer permits for Utah's 35 deer units and subunits. In 2008, a total of 1,170 permits were available.


Concerns about the public's safety and damage to habitat are among the reasons the DWR has tried to reduce the number of moose in Utah.

Those efforts, and the harsh winter of 2007 2008, appear to have worked. Because moose populations are close to their objective, biologists are recommending fewer cow moose permits this year.

"We've offered more cow moose hunting permits over the past few years," Aoude says. "We also worked with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to move 60 moose from the Ogden Valley to Colorado over the last few years.

"Surveys our biologists flew this winter show these efforts worked."

Biologists are recommending 30 cow moose permits for 2009. In 2008, a total of 109 permits were offered.

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