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Utah Wildlife Division proposes changes to bear hunting rules and poaching reporting rewards

By Staff | Nov 29, 2023

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is proposing a few changes to the state’s black bear management plan and hunting rules and also some updates to the rules that provide a reward to someone who reports a poacher, as well as a few other items.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is unveiling proposed amendments to the state’s black bear management plan, hunting regulations, and incentives for reporting poachers. Alongside these changes, the DWR is also seeking public input on the proposed adjustments.

Proposed changes to hunting rules and black bear management plan

The upcoming 2024 hunting season marks the third year of a three-year recommendation cycle for black bear hunting in Utah. In line with this, the DWR is maintaining permit numbers for black bears, making only calendar date adjustments for the 2024 seasons.

Several minor adjustments to black bear hunting rules are on the table. Notably, the requirement for a mandatory bear hunting orientation course before applying for a permit may only be necessary for those who draw out for the permit, aligning with a previous Utah Wildlife Board decision. Additionally, the DWR is proposing updates to clarify that hunters must possess the orientation course certificate physically or electronically (via the DWR Hunting and Fishing app) while pursuing a black bear.

The Utah Black Bear Management Plan, effective until 2035, faces a proposed removal of a paragraph requiring a statewide rollup of harvest variables, allowing biologists greater flexibility to address specific issues in bear populations across different units.

Recommended revisions to poaching reporting rewards

Utah’s unique incentive program rewards individuals reporting poaching incidents involving big game, bear, cougar, or turkey species with permits. The proposed changes aim to provide more protection for reporting parties, address instances of qualifying for multiple permits, remove references to cougar permits following recent legislation changes, and allow for a reward permit on a nearby or similar unit.

Furthermore, the proposed changes permit the issuance of premium limited-entry or once-in-a-lifetime permits to those reporting multiple poachers or poaching violations. The inclusion of the unlawful take of a trophy animal as a permit-eligible violation is also part of the suggested revisions.

Proposed unit elk plans

The Utah Statewide Elk Management Plan, effective until 2032, sees proposed changes to eight hunting unit management plans, including updates to population objectives. The DWR suggests splitting the Central Mountains and South Slope elk unit plans into separate plans for more accurate representation of elk populations.

Public feedback and meetings

The public is encouraged to participate in the feedback process through virtual or in-person attendance at public meetings. Biologists’ presentations and feedback submission forms are available on the DWR website, with comments accepted until specific deadlines. Regional Advisory Council meetings and the Utah Wildlife Board meeting will be held on various dates in December 2023 and January 2024.

For more information and to engage in the feedback process, please visit the DWR website or attend the scheduled public meetings.


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