Black bears doing well in Utah

Salt Lake City — 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 the governor — 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 the board approved should result in about 20 additional bears being taken in Utah this year. Most of those bears would be taken in the southeastern part of the state.

You can see all of the black bear rules the board approved in the 2017 Utah Black Bear Guidebook. The free guidebook should be available by late January on our website.

Bears doing well

Darren DeBloois, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says black bears are doing well in Utah. “The population trend is positive,” he says, “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. When a bear population increases, conflicts with people can increase too. These conflicts usually occur in campgrounds or when bears kill livestock or damage farmers’ crops.

“Hopefully,” DeBloois says, “increasing permit numbers in southeastern Utah will help address some of these conflicts.”

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. You can download the plan from our website.