Bear Hunting Permits Approved in Utah

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Wildlife Board sets permit numbers for 2009

A black bear in southwestern Utah.Eight more black bears might be taken by hunters in Utah this year.

At their Jan. 8 meeting in Salt Lake City, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved 319 hunting permits for Utah’s 2009 spring and fall seasons. In 2008, a total of 299 permits were available.

Based on a five-year average success rate of 41 percent, the extra 20 permits should result in hunters taking about eight more bears this year.

In 2008, hunters took a total of 134 bears.

More permits for spring hunt

Bear hunts are held in Utah in the spring and the fall. All of the additional permits the board approved are for the spring hunt.

“In the spring, bears kill a lot of sheep and other livestock,” says Justin Dolling, mammals program coordinator for the DWR.

“Federal officers end up killing many of these bears,” he says. “Instead of officers taking these bears, we’d like to give hunters a chance to take them.”

To give hunters a better chance to take bears in the spring, the board also extended the spring season one week on the units where most of the incidents of bears killing livestock occur.

In addition to helping reduce the amount of livestock killed by bears, there’s another positive to hunting bears in the spring fewer female bears are taken.

“Female bears usually come out of their dens later in the spring,” Dolling says. “During most of the spring hunt, most of the females are still in their dens.”

Dolling says when female bears do come out of their dens in the spring, many of the females have cubs with them. “Having the cubs right there with their mom makes it easier for hunters to know that the bear they’ve found is a female,” he says.

Black bear plan

In 1999, the DWR put a discussion group together to draft the state’s first black bear management plan. Membership on the diverse 12-member group ranged from people opposed to bear hunting to ranchers and hunters.

“The plan set certain safeguards or performance targets to protect Utah’s bear population,” Dolling says. “For example, one of the performance targets says that not more than 40 percent of the bears taken each year can be females.

“The performance targets have been met every year since 1999,” Dolling says. “That tells us Utah’s black bear populations are doing well and that it’s safe to offer a few more permits.”

The black bear management plan is available at

Apply starting Feb. 2

You can apply for a 2009 black bear hunting permit starting Feb. two at

The number of permits for each unit can be found in the 2009 Utah Black Bear Guidebook. The guidebook should be available at during the week of Jan. 19.