Utah Wildlife Board Approves Changes to Black Bear Management Plan

The Black Bear hunting season and permit numbers are on a three-year recommendation cycle that started in 2019 following a Utah Wildlife Board meeting. This being the case, there were no changes to the hunting season dates or permit numbers, rather the Board made updates to the management plan so it complies with legislative changes that were approved in 2020. The law passed during the 2020 legislative session requires the DWR director to take immediate action if biologists determine that black bears are preventing mule deer populations from reaching management objectives. New data from GPS collars helps DWR biologists determine the deer’s cause of death and whether it was by a predator. Using this data and when several conditions are met, DWR biologists can determine if predators, including black bears, are preventing the growth of the population. In a press release from the DWR, Game Mammals Coordinator Darren DeBloois shared that "these changes to the plan will align it with the legislative requirements to act when predators are impacting mule deer populations and preventing them from reaching management objectives. The changes will also allow us to maintain healthy bear populations in areas where we are not seeing negative impacts." In 2020, Utah issued 1,190 black bear hunting permits. Hunters harvested a total of 443 bears, an increase from 369 bears harvested in 2019. Depredation incidents, where bears killed livestock or damaged agriculture, were up slightly in 2020, but the overall costs of damage decreased for the third year in a row.

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