Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Inter-Mountain Western States Coordinator
On February 24, a new rule went into effect, allowing hunting within 29 of Utah’s 44 state parks, increasing hunter access and opportunities throughout the state. Previously, limited hunting was only allowed within 14 state parks.
Approved in November 2019, the Utah State Parks Board supported the proposed rule change “in an effort to increase consistency and to allow for multiple land uses” within state parks. The previous rule was restrictive, stating that all state parks were closed to hunting, unless specifically designated otherwise. The new rule denotes that “all state parks are open to hunting, unless specifically designated as being closed.” This simple rule changes increases hunting opportunities and access within state parks from 32% to 66%. "Our parks are legislated to provide multiple uses on these public lands, and one of those uses includes hunting," said Utah State Parks Deputy Director Dave Harris.
As a point of clarification, even though state parks are now open to hunting, “all state and federal laws, Division of Wildlife Resource rules and local county and city ordinances regulating hunting, weapons and shooting apply within the park boundaries."
In 2019, Utah’s certified 496,903 fishing and 244,131 hunting license holders contributed a total of $50.57 million to conservation and wildlife management through the American System of Conservation Funding. With lack of access to public lands being most commonly cited as the top reason for decreasing hunter participation trends nationwide, Utah’s effort to expand hunting opportunities works to address those concerns head on. In a recent Tweet, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) stated they had been receiving numerous questions pertaining to this rule change from interested sportsmen and women. In response to the excitement, DWR provided a breakdown of the new hunting opportunities within each state park for better clarification.
“Hunting is a great way for people to get outdoors and to obtain locally sourced meat, so we are excited about this rule change that allows for those expanded opportunities on public lands,” said Justin Shannon, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Wildlife Section Chief.
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Your opinion counts
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?Vote Here
- Increase the number of states with discounted license tailored to specific groups. (5.22%)
- Increase access to public lands. (25.07%)
- Provide more information for new participants. (4.04%)
- Provide hands on opportunities to improve skills and knowledge. (13.09%)
- Engage youth through hunter and conservation programs in schools. (43.24%)
- I feel we have enough sportsmen and women and do not believe R3 programs are necessary. (9.34%)