A few more black bears might be taken by hunters in southeastern Utah in 2017.
At their Jan. 3 meeting, members of the Utah Wildlife Board — a panel of seven citizens appointed by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert — approved a slight increase in the number of limited-entry bear hunting permits offered for Utah’s 2017 hunts. Based on the 44 percent success rate hunters had in 2016, the 46 additional permits approved by the board are expected to result in about 20 additional bears being taken in Utah this year, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials said in a news release.
Most of those bears would be taken in the southeastern part of the state, officials said.
Complete information about the Utah DWR’s new black bear rules is available in the 2017 Utah Black Bear Guidebook. The free guidebook is expected to be available online by late January at www.wildlife.utah.gov.
Bears doing well
Darren DeBloois, mammals coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said black bears are doing well in Utah.
“The population trend is positive,” he said. “Meaning the state’s bear population is continuing to grow at a slow but a fairly steady pace.”
Having more black bears has led to some challenges, though, DWR officials said. When a bear population increases, conflicts with people can increase too. Those conflicts usually occur in campgrounds or when bears kill livestock or damage farmers’ crops.
“Hopefully, increasing permit numbers in southeastern Utah will help address some of these conflicts,” DeBloois said.
Bear management plan
DWR biologists recommend permit numbers based on population indicators in the Utah Black Bear Management Plan. The indicators measure how the bear population is doing and whether the number of hunting permits should be increased, decreased or remain the same.
The indicators also ensure Utah’s bear population stays healthy by keeping plenty of female bears in the population, according to DWR officials.
The full black bear management plan is available online at: www.wildlife.utah.gov/bear/pdf/2011_bear_plan.pdf.