Monday, November 29, 2010

More Chances to Hunt Bears

DWR presents ideas for 2011 hunts
By all indications, black bears in Utah are doing well. And that means hunters might have a few more chances to hunt bears in 2011.

The following are among the changes Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are recommending for Utah’s 2011 bear hunts:

 A total of 419 hunting permits. That’s 53 more than the 366 offered in 2010. About 40 percent of those who draw a bear-hunting permit end up taking a bear. The extra 53 permits should result in hunters taking about 180 bears in 2011. In 2010, hunters took 158 bears.

 Forty one of the 419 permits would be premium-limited-entry permits. If they didn’t take a bear during the spring hunt, those who drew one of the 41 premium-limited-entry permits could hunt bears again during the fall hunt.

 Extending the spring hunting season for one week on three additional bear management units in the state.
The South Slope, Yellowstone unit and the South Slope, Vernal, Diamond Mountain, Bonanza unit in northeastern Utah, and the Central Mountains, Manti-North unit in central Utah, are the three units biologists are considering.

Currently, six units in Utah have a hunting season that’s one week longer than the rest of the units in the state. The extended season usually runs from early April through the first week in June.

 Allowing those who draw a fall spot-and-stalk permit for the Book Cliffs, Little Creek unit to hunt from August through November. 2010 was the first year a spot-and-stalk bear hunt was held on the unit. To avoid conflicts with big game hunters, bear hunters were not allowed to hunt on the unit in October. But very few deer hunters are allowed to hunt the unit, and the DWR is not aware of any conflicts that occurred between deer and bear hunters. For that reason, DWR biologists would like to give spot-and-stalk bear hunters a chance to hunt on the unit in October too.

(Spot-and-stalk hunters may not use hounds to track and tree bears, and they may not use bait to try to lure bears in.) The Book Cliffs, Little Creek unit is in the roadless area in the BookCliffs.

Bears are doing well
Three main factors help DWR biologists decide how many hunting permits they should recommend each year. Those factors include the average age of the bears hunters take, the percent of those bears that are females and the number of adult bears that are surviving from year to year.

Justin Dolling, game mammals coordinator for the DWR, says as long as targets relating to those factors aren’t exceeded, biologists know the state’s black bear population is doing well. “And those targets haven’t been exceeded for several years,” he says.

You can see all of the DWR’s black bear recommendations at After you’ve reviewed the recommendations at , you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an e-mail to them.

A plan that will guide how black bears are managed in Utah for the next 12 years is also available for review.

You can read the proposed plan at . The following are among the plan’s highlights:
 Currently, most bear hunters in Utah use hounds to track and tree bears.  While hunting with hounds would continue under the new plan, some areas of the state may become spot-and-stalk-only areas. Hounds may not be used during spot-and-stalk hunts.

 To help biologists focus hunters on bears that are killing livestock and raiding campgrounds, the new plan would create harvest-objective areas.

Currently, all of Utah’s bear hunting areas are limited-entry areas.  Only those who draw a permit for a limited-entry area can hunt on it. Under the new plan, some of the limited-entry areas would become harvest-objective areas. The number of hunters who can hunt on a harvest-objective area isn’t limited, so switching an area to harvest objective would increase the number of people who can hunt the area.  Letting more hunters hunt an area would increase the chance that a set number of bears were taken.

As soon as the set number of bears was taken (called the area’s quota), the hunt on the area would end for the season.
 Bait could still be used by archery hunters to lure bears in close enough for a clean and effective shot.

 Currently, three factors are used to determine the health of Utah’s bear population -- the percentage of females taken by hunters, the average age of the bears taken and the number of adult bears that survive from year to year.

The new plan would eliminate these three factors. In their place, the key factors would be:
• The number of females and the number of adult males that hunters take. (An adult male bear is a bear that’s five years of age or older.) Justin Dolling, game mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the number of females and adult males that hunters take gives important information about how a bear population is doing.

“The number of females is important because females give birth to and care for the cubs,” Dolling says. “But the number of adult males hunters take is the best early indicator we have about the health of a bear population.”

Dolling says hunters usually find adult males because adult males wander more than the other age groups. “You know a bear population is in decline if the number of adult males hunters take is going down and the number of females is going up,” he says.

• Results from two important bear studies would also be used in the new management system.

One study involves snagging hair from bears at sites across Utah and then using DNA tests to determine how often bears are visiting the research sites. This study is helping biologists determine the total number of bears in Utah and helping them measure the growth rate of the state’s population.

The second study involves visiting bear dens in the winter to see how many cubs are in the dens and to assess the health of the cubs and their mothers. This study is giving biologists important information about the number of bears that are being brought into Utah’s population each year.

RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Jan. 4 to approve bear hunting and pursuit rules for Utah’s 2011 seasons.
Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

Southern Region
Dec. 7
7 p.m.
Beaver High School
195 E. Center St.

Southeastern Region
Dec. 8
6:30 p.m.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
Green River

Northeastern Region
Dec. 9
6:30 p.m.
Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center
320 N. Aggie Blvd. (2000 W.)

Central Region
Dec. 14
6:30 p.m.
Central Region Conference Center
1115 N. Main St.

Northern Region
Dec. 15
6 p.m.
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W.
Brigham City

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e-mail. E-mail addresses for your RAC members are available at .

The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person’s e-mail address. You should direct your e-mail to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.

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