The Utah Wildlife Board has approved a decrease in the number of general-season permits for the 2021 deer hunt. The approved total of 74,025 general-season deer hunting permits for 2021 is a 5,650-permit decrease from the previous year. Of the 29 total deer hunting units across the state, 17 have decreased permit numbers from the previous year.
Division of Wildlife Resources biologists recommended the overall decrease in permit numbers to the Regional Advisory Councils and to the wildlife board. The DWR manages deer, elk and other wildlife in accordance with approved management plans in order to help maintain healthy wildlife populations across the state.
DWR biologists evaluate the health of deer populations throughout the year (through GPS collaring efforts, surveys, and research projects), and also assess the previous year’s harvest data from the deer and elk hunts. That information is factored in with current habitat and environmental conditions across the state before hunting permit recommendations are made for the upcoming hunting seasons.
The current management plan includes an objective to have just over 400,000 deer across Utah — there are currently an estimated 314,850 deer in the state.
“We’ve had a few drought years in Utah recently, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer,” said Covy Jones, big game coordinator. “In Utah, we have the longest range-trend study in the Western U.S., and we’ve seen that having suitable habitat is crucial for maintaining or growing wildlife populations. And drought conditions can really negatively impact that habitat, which in turn affects our wildlife species.”
All permit recommendations for the 2021 big game hunting seasons can be found here.