Elk NetworkUtah Recommends Increase in 2023 Elk Permits, Decrease for Deer

General | April 10, 2023

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) proposes a slight increase in public draw bull elk permits but a decrease in the number of general season deer hunting permits for the 2023 hunting season. The deer decrease marks the fifth consecutive year of such recommendations.

Elk are affected differently than deer by drought and severe winter conditions because survival of adults typically remains high, although pregnancy rates have been shown to decline during extreme drought conditions. The current statewide elk management plan includes an objective to have 80,000 elk across Utah — there are currently an estimated 82,960 elk in the state.

The current deer management plan includes an objective to have 404,000 deer across Utah — there are currently an estimated 335,000 deer in the state.

“For several years, we have had more demand for deer hunting in Utah than we have the supply for,” said Dax Mangus, DWR big game coordinator. “While it is hard to see the negative impacts of the severe winter in northern Utah, it is exciting to see high fawn production and very high survival of does and fawns in southern Utah. Biologists look closely at each hunting unit and individual situation when they make permit recommendations. We are recommending a decrease for both buck deer and antlerless deer permits again this year, but the circumstances of individual deer populations vary greatly across the state. We use the best available data and our management plans to make proactive recommendations for the herd health of our wildlife.”

While most of the deer had good body fat conditions going into winter, the fawn and doe survival varied throughout the different parts of the state, depending on the severity of the snowfall in each area.

Click here for more information including permit recommendations and locations, proposed technology changes, opportunities to offer feedback and a link to apply for permits.

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)