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New wildlife laws enacted: What you need to know

By Staff | Apr 3, 2024

There were several bills related to wildlife management that were signed into law this legislative session — here are just a few to know about.

SALT LAKE CITY — With the 2024 legislative session wrapping up, several bills related to wildlife management have been signed into law, bringing changes that will impact hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, and conservation efforts across Utah.

One significant update comes with HB222, the Wildlife Hunting Amendments. This law clarifies the requirement for hunters to wear “hunter orange” during specific hunting seasons. Previously, the law mandated a minimum of 400 square inches of hunter orange, but the new law specifies that it must be worn visibly on the exterior, including items like hats, shirts, jackets, or vests. Additionally, hikers, campers, and others on wildlife management areas during big game rifle hunts may also be required to wear hunter orange for safety. These changes go into effect on May 1.

HB382, the Wildlife Amendments, brings further adjustments. Notably, it designates new developments after May 1, 2024, as infringing on existing wildlife habitat, potentially affecting wildlife damage or nuisance claims related to such developments. Furthermore, the law addresses the gathering of shed antlers, establishing rules for recreational and commercial gathering, including a $30 per pound restitution value for shed antlers. The Utah Wildlife Board will present official proposals for shed antler gathering rules next month after gathering public comments.

Other provisions in HB382 cover enforcement of wildlife laws, clarifications on tagging requirements, and naming conventions for birds, among others. The law will take effect on July 1st.

HB2, the New Fiscal Year Supplemental Appropriations Act, allocates funds for wildlife habitat conservation. This includes $8.5 million for the acquisition of private property in Morgan County, expanding the East Canyon Wildlife Management Area and benefiting big game animals and sage grouse. Additionally, a $2 million increase to the Endangered Species Mitigation Fund aims to prevent native species from being listed under the Endangered Species Act and supports conservation efforts outlined in the Utah Wildlife Action Plan.

Finally, HB469 approves the creation of a new division, the Division of Law Enforcement, under the Utah Department of Natural Resources. This division will merge officers and rangers from various agencies, streamlining law enforcement efforts related to natural resources and outdoor recreation.

These new laws reflect ongoing efforts to balance wildlife management, conservation, and outdoor recreation in Utah. As the state continues to evolve, stakeholders are encouraged to stay informed and engaged in discussions shaping the future of wildlife and natural resources management.


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