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State’s new black bear strategy appears successful

By Sun Advocate

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.
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.
The Southeastern Utah regional RAC meeting will be Dec. 9 in the John Wesley Powell Museum, 1765 E. Main St., Green River.
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.
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 Utah’s black bear population is healthy and growing.

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