Black Bear Proposals Similar to 2015

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A new black bear hunting strategy is working in Utah.

DWR Press Release

A new black bear strategy, started in Utah in 2015, did exactly what wildlife managers hoped it would: it led to government agencies taking fewer bears and hunters taking more.

In 2014, hunters and government agencies took a total of 378 bears in Utah. In 2015—despite putting more hunters in the field—the number taken declined to 370.

Leslie McFarlane, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says biologists are happy with the results. “The strategies implemented last year gave more hunters an opportunity to hunt while helping reduce the number of bears that have to be removed because they threaten people or kill livestock,” she says. “And it’s accomplishing that goal while keeping Utah’s black bear population at a healthy, balanced level.”

For all of those reasons, DWR biologists are recommending bear hunting strategies for 2016 that are identical to 2015. You can see the strategies at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/rac/2015-12_rac_packet.pdf.

Learn more, share your ideas

After you’ve reviewed the bear proposals at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/rac/2015-12_rac_packet.pdf, 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.

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. 5 to approve rules for Utah’s 2016 black bear hunting and pursuit seasons.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

Central Region
Dec. 2
6:30 p.m.
Springville Civic Center
110 S. Main St.
Springville

Northern Region
Dec. 3
6 p.m.
Brigham City Community Center
24 N. 300 W.
Brigham City

Southern Region
Dec. 8
6 p.m.
Snow College Administration Building
800 W. 200 S.
Richfield

Southeastern Region
Dec. 9
6:30 p.m.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
Green River

Northeastern Region
Dec. 10
6:30 p.m.
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N. Vernal Ave.
Vernal

E-mail

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e-mail. E-mail addresses for your RAC members are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.

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.

Same strategy

The DWR is recommending a bear hunting strategy that’s identical to 2015. The strategy splits Utah’s bear hunt into six seasons held at various times in the spring, summer and fall. Each season is unique. For example, during some hunts, hunters are allowed to hunt bears with trained hunting dogs that track and tree bears. During other hunts, hounds are not allowed. Instead, hunters must spot the bears and then try to move closer for a good shot.

McFarlane says success rates vary, depending on the time of year and the methods hunters are allowed to use. During some hunts, success rates are fairly high. During other hunts, rates are low.

“Because some of the success rates are fairly low,” she says, “we’ve been able to provide more chances to hunt without increasing the overall number of bears taken.”

McFarlane says the area where the strategy has made the biggest difference is the number of bears that have to be taken because they pose a threat to people or they’ve killed livestock. “Putting more hunters in the field,” he says, “during different times of the year, has helped decrease the number of bears that get into these situations.”

In 2014, the DWR and USDA-Wildlife Services had to take 95 bears for public safety and livestock reasons. In 2015, that number fell to 45 bears. By comparison, the number of bears taken by hunters in 2014 was 283. In 2015, that number rose to 325.

McFarlane says Utah’s black bear population is healthy and growing. Based on visits biologists make to bear dens in the winter, and data gathered from bears taken by hunters, the DWR estimates the state’s bear population is growing at least 5 percent annually.

In 2015, a total of 690 hunting permits were available. For 2016, McFarlane says biologists are recommending 722 permits. “There were still some areas in Utah where bears got into trouble last year,” she says. “The increases we’re recommending for 2016 should help reduce problems in those areas in 2016.”

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