2023 Hunting Updates: Key Changes and Applications

Apply for Bear Hunts: Application Period and Notification

The Division offers permits for limited-entry bear hunts through a drawing process. Hunters interested in participating can apply online or by phone from February 7 to February 21, 2023. Successful applicants will receive email notifications by March 3, 2023. Ensure to check for additional information regarding the application process.

Trail Camera Regulations: New Rules and Restrictions

Significant amendments to Utah's trail camera regulations will take effect on May 3, 2023. Notably, the use of trail cameras is banned on public land from July 31 to December 31 annually, barring specific exceptions for scientific research and monitoring by land management agencies. The legislation continues to outlaw the sale or purchase of trail camera footage related to the hunting or attempted hunting of big game, cougars, or bears. However, private property owners are permitted to use trail cameras with internal data storage. Refer to the specified information box and the official wildlife website for comprehensive details.

Night-Vision Device Prohibition: Ensuring Fair Chase

Regulations now explicitly prohibit the use of night-vision devices to locate or attempt to locate big game animals, bears, or cougars starting 48 hours before and extending 48 hours after any designated hunt in the respective area. This measure ensures fair chase principles are upheld during hunting activities.

Bait Season Modifications: Elimination of Fall Bait Season

The fall bait season has been abolished to prevent overlap with dog-aided hunting seasons, as using both bait and hounds concurrently is illegal. Consequently, baiting is exclusively permitted during the summer limited-entry season, spanning from May 29 to June 30, 2023, on specific hunt units.

Prohibition on Early Baiting: Statewide Enforcement

To further regulate hunting practices, early baiting is now prohibited across the state. Hunters are advised to consult the Field Regulations for intricate details and compliance requirements.

Bait Station Certificate of Registration: Online Application

Starting April 3, 2023, hunters can apply for a bait station certificate of registration (COR) online or by visiting any Division office. The new update emphasizes compliance with all guidelines in the guidebook and Utah Code. However, the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will no longer pre-approve bait site locations before issuing a COR. Ensure all bait sites adhere strictly to the regulations.

Hunting on Another Hunter's Bait Site: Permissions

It's permissible to hunt over another hunter's bait site if you have a valid bait permit and written authorization from the original COR holder. This facilitates cooperation among hunters while ensuring respect for individual hunting strategies and efforts.

Restrictions on Bait: Prohibition of Chocolate and Cocoa Products

The use of chocolate or cocoa in bait is strictly prohibited due to its toxicity to various wild and domestic animals. Hunters are responsible for understanding and adhering to all bait restrictions and allowed substances to ensure the safety of wildlife and the integrity of hunting practices.

Stay Informed: Unit Maps and Boundaries

Hunters must consult the Utah Hunt Planner for the most current unit maps, boundaries, and detailed hunt information. Unit boundaries and specific regulations are subject to annual revisions, so staying updated is crucial for legal and effective hunting.

Season Updates: Adjusted Dates and Units

Be aware that hunting season dates and specific hunt unit boundaries may change yearly. Some units have adjusted their season dates to prevent the overlapping of hound hunting and bear bait seasons. Hunters must review the latest season dates and unit-specific information to plan accordingly and ensure compliance with all hunting regulations.

Bear Hunting Hours

General Hunting Hours: Sunrise to Sunset

By Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-5, bear hunting hours during the spring, summer, and fall seasons extend from 30 minutes before official sunrise until 30 minutes after official sunset. These are the legally designated hours within which hunters may actively hunt or harvest bears. It's crucial to adhere strictly to these timeframes to ensure compliance with state laws and ethical hunting practices.

Spring and Fall Pursuit Seasons: Standard Hours

For the spring and fall bear pursuit seasons, the same hunting hours apply. Hunters may pursue bears within the 30-minute pre-sunrise window until the 30-minute post-sunset period. This allows for early morning and late evening hunting activities, aligning with bear activity patterns and legal hunting regulations.

Summer Pursuit Season: Extended Morning Hours

During the summer pursuit season specifically, hunters are allowed to start pursuing bears earlier at 5 a.m., extending until 30 minutes after official sunset. The adjustment in morning hours accommodates the longer daylight periods and potentially higher bear activity during the summer months. Hunters must still cease all pursuit activities by the designated time in the evening.

Utah Bear Hunting Methods: Regulations and Options

Understanding Your Permit: Verify Allowed Methods

Before venturing out for bear hunting in Utah, it's imperative to consult your permit and the official guidebook to confirm which hunting methods are permissible for your specific hunt. Utah's regulations outline three primary hunting methods: spot-and-stalk, using dogs, and using bait. Each method has its regulations and allowable circumstances detailed in Utah Code § 23-20-3 and various Utah Administrative Rules.

Spot-and-Stalk Method: A Stealthy Approach

The spot-and-stalk method is a traditional hunting technique involving locating a bear without the assistance of bait or dogs. Once a bear is spotted, hunters track and approach it stealthily to get within range for an effective shot. This method requires patience, skill, and knowledge of bear behavior and habitat. It's allowed during any hunting season, with certain limited-entry hunts exclusively permitting spot-and-stalk. Refer to the hunt table for specific spot-and-stalk-only hunts.

Using Dogs: Tracking and Treeing Bears

For hunts that permit the use of dogs, hunters can utilize trained canines to locate, track, and sometimes tree a bear, allowing the hunter to approach and take a shot. The use of dogs is regulated, with specific rules governing when, where, and how you may employ dogs in hunting. These regulations ensure the safety and ethical treatment of both the game and the dogs involved. For hunts allowing dogs, consult the hunt tables and adhere to the detailed rules provided.

Using Bait: Enticing Bears to a Location

Certain bear hunts in Utah permit the use of bait to attract bears to a specific location. To use bait, hunters must first obtain a bait station certificate of registration, which can be applied for at a Division office or online. There are strict regulations regarding the types of bait allowed, as well as specific rules about the timing, placement, and manner of baiting. Importantly, early baiting is prohibited, and the only season that allows baiting is the summer limited-entry season, as the fall bait season has been eliminated. Consult the hunt tables to determine which hunts allow baiting and adhere to all guidelines to ensure a lawful and ethical hunt.

Checkpoints and Officer Contacts in Bear Hunting

Interaction with Conservation Officers and Biologists

Under Utah Code § 23-20-25, Division conservation officers and biologists play a critical role in monitoring the taking and possession of black bears, as well as overseeing the compliance with required permits, firearms, and equipment used for hunting. As a hunter, you should be prepared to encounter these officials in the field and at checkpoints. Their presence ensures the responsible stewardship of Utah's wildlife and adherence to hunting regulations.

Expectations During Officer Contacts

If approached or contacted by a conservation officer, hunters are legally obligated to provide any requested items. This includes licenses, permits, devices used for hunting, and any game taken. These interactions allow officers to verify compliance with hunting laws and collect essential data on Utah's black bear populations, contributing to ongoing conservation efforts and sustainable wildlife management.

Legal Implications of Aiding Violations

As stipulated in Utah Code § 23-20-23, it is illegal to aid or assist another person in violating any aspect of the Wildlife Resources Code, rules, or guidebooks. This includes any actions that facilitate or contribute to another's illegal hunting activities. The penalties for aiding or assisting in violations are as severe as those imposed for committing the primary offense itself.

Bear Hunting Equipment Regulations

Consistency with Utah Big Game Hunt Equipment

The firearms and archery equipment permissible for bear hunting are now aligned with those allowed during a Utah big game hunt. Hunters must be acquainted with the specific types of weapons and accessories permitted and those that are prohibited to ensure a legal and ethical hunting experience.

Prohibited Weapons and Devices

According to Utah Code §§ 23-20-3 and 23-13-18, and Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-7, while hunting bears, the following items are strictly prohibited:

  • Firearms capable of fully automatic fire.
  • Light-enhancement or aiming devices that cast a visible beam of light.
  • Firearms equipped with a computerized targeting system that marks targets, calculates firing solutions and automatically discharges at the calculated point.
  • Computers or other devices used to remotely control the aiming and discharge of a firearm or weapon.

Note that these restrictions do not extend to laser range-finding devices or illuminated sight pins for archery equipment.

Permitted Methods

Rifles and Shotguns

Your rifle must fire centerfire cartridges with expanding bullets. Shotguns must be 20 gauge or larger, using only slug ammunition or buckshot that's 00 or larger.

Airguns

Permissible airguns for bear hunting must be pneumatically powered and pressurized through a separate charging device. They should only fire a bolt or arrow, which must be at least 16 inches long and travel at a minimum speed of 400 feet per second at the muzzle. The broadheads on these bolts or arrows must be either fixed and at least 7/8-inch wide at the widest point or expandable/mechanical and at least 7/8-inch wide when open.

Crossbows

Crossbows used in bear hunting must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds and include a positive mechanical safety mechanism. The arrows or bolts must be at least 16 inches long with fixed broadheads at least 7/8 inches wide or expandable, mechanical broadheads at least 7/8 inches wide when open. It's unlawful to carry a cocked crossbow with an arrow or bolt on any motorized vehicle on a public highway or right-of-way, except as specified in R657-12-4. Additionally, it's illegal to hunt with a crossbow bolt that has any chemical, explosive, or electronic device attached. Crossbows may have fixed or variable magnifying scopes.

Handguns

Per Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-9, hunters may use handguns for bear hunting if the handgun is a minimum of .24 caliber and fires a centerfire cartridge with an expanding bullet. It must develop at least 500 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Muzzleloaders

Muzzleloaders are allowed in bear hunts, adhering to requirements such as muzzle-loading only, one barrel at least 18 inches long, and a prohibition on firing more than once without reloading. The muzzleloader must use black powder or a substitute, and bullets or sabots must meet specific size and weight requirements.

Archery Equipment

Archery equipment is permissible in any bear hunt. Bows must have a minimum pull of 30 pounds, and arrows must be at least 20 inches long with arrowheads having two or more sharp-cutting edges. Range-finding devices are allowed, and arrows must be transported properly.

Traps and Trapping Devices in Bear Hunting

Regulations on Usage

According to Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-7, the use of traps, snares, or any other trapping devices to take bears is generally prohibited unless explicitly authorized by the Division. This regulation is in place to ensure ethical treatment and the conservation of bear populations.

Incidental Captures

In instances where a bear is accidentally captured in a trapping device, the bear must be released unharmed. Furthermore, the bear cannot be pursued or taken after its release, emphasizing the importance of respecting wildlife and adhering to ethical hunting and trapping practices.

Handling Bear Carcasses

Should a bear be found deceased in a trapping device, hunters and trappers must obtain written authorization from a division representative before removing the carcass. All bear carcasses are considered state property and must be surrendered to the Division. These measures help in maintaining appropriate wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Carrying Loaded Firearms in Vehicles

Legal Restrictions

Per Utah Code §§ 76-10-502, 76-10-504, 76-10-505, and 76-10-523, carrying a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle is subject to strict legal conditions to ensure safety and legal compliance. Understanding and adhering to these conditions is crucial for all individuals intending to transport firearms.

Conditions for Transporting Handguns

To legally carry a loaded handgun in or on a vehicle, all the following conditions must be met:

  • You must own the vehicle or have explicit permission from the vehicle’s owner.
  • The firearm must be a handgun.
  • You must be 18 years of age or older.

Definition of a Loaded Firearm

Understanding what constitutes a loaded firearm is critical:

  • A pistol, revolver, rifle, or shotgun is loaded if there is an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile in the firing position.
  • Pistols and revolvers are additionally considered loaded if an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile is in a position where manual operation of any mechanism once would cause it to be fired.
  • A muzzleloading firearm is considered loaded when it is capped or primed and has a powder charge and ball or shot in the barrel or cylinders.

Hunting Equipment in State Parks

Regulations and Permissions

Under Utah Code § 76-10-508 and Utah Admin. Rule R651-614-4, hunting of wildlife is generally allowed within the boundaries of all state park areas. However, this is subject to exceptions and regulations set forth by the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation.

Restrictions and Closures

Specific areas within state parks or certain types of hunts may be closed or restricted by the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation. Hunters need to be aware of and adhere to these designated closures and restrictions as outlined in Utah Admin. Rule R651-614.

Restrictions on Discharging Firearms

Prohibited Circumstances

According to Utah Code § 76-10-508 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-12, discharging a firearm or dangerous weapon is strictly prohibited under specific conditions to ensure public safety and respect for property. Hunters and individuals must be aware of and comply with these restrictions at all times.

Specific Prohibitions

You may not discharge a dangerous weapon or firearm in the following situations:

  • From a Vehicle: Discharging any firearm from within or on a vehicle is prohibited.
  • Highways and Roads: It's illegal to fire a weapon from, upon, or across any highway.
  • Infrastructure and Utilities: Shooting at power lines, signs, railroad equipment, or facilities, including signs or signals, is not allowed.
  • State Parks and Recreational Areas: Discharging firearms within Utah State Park buildings, designated camp or picnic sites, overlooks, golf courses, boat ramps, or developed beaches is prohibited.
  • Near Dwellings and Livestock Areas: It's illegal to discharge a firearm within 600 feet of a house, dwelling, any other building, or any structure where domestic animals are kept or fed without written permission from the owner or property manager. This includes barns, poultry yards, corrals, feeding pens, and stockyards.

Prohibition on Carrying Dangerous Weapons Under Influence

Legal Restrictions

As stated in Utah Code § 76-10-528, it is illegal to carry a dangerous weapon or engage in bear hunting while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This law is enforced to ensure public safety and responsible handling of weapons.

Regulations on Using Dogs in Bear Hunting

Authorization and Restrictions

Under Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-12, dogs may be used to harvest or pursue bears strictly during authorized hunts as detailed in the guidebook. Hunters are advised to refer to the specific hunt tables to determine which hunts permit the use of dogs. Importantly, dogs should not be used at bait stations either for luring or starting the pursuit of bears.

Maximum Number of Dogs Allowed

  • Spring and Fall Seasons: No more than 16 dogs may be used in a single pursuit of a black bear across all members of a hunting party.
  • Summer Seasons: The limit is reduced to 8 dogs during the summer pursuit season or summer restricted pursuit season.

Cumulative Count Across Hunting Parties

The maximum number of dogs allowed is cumulative across all members of a hunting party. This means if multiple members have authorization to use dogs, their combined number of dogs must not exceed the seasonal limit for a single pursuit.

Prohibitions When Using Dogs

Hunters must not exceed the maximum number of dogs allowed in a pursuit, regardless of ownership or control of the dogs. It is also unlawful to harvest a bear that was pursued with more than the permissible number of dogs. Hunters are responsible for ensuring they do not release or pursue more dogs than allowed.

Requirements for Dog Handlers

  • Valid Permits: Dog handlers or owners must possess a valid bear permit or appropriate authorization during the pursuit or harvest. Exceptions exist for licensed guides and outfitters in Utah.
  • Continuous Participation: The licensed hunter intending to take the bear must be present from the release of the dogs and continuously participate in the hunt.
  • Retrieving Stray Dogs: Handlers are allowed to retrieve stray dogs but must take steps to keep the pack together and immediately release any bear incidentally treated or held by stray dogs.

Documentation and Compliance

When using dogs during restricted pursuit seasons or for harvesting a bear, handlers must carry the appropriate permits and follow all specific regulations for the activity. This includes having a valid pursuit permit or being accompanied by an individual with the necessary permit for the unit where the pursuit is occurring.

Additional Agency Restrictions

Other land-management agencies may impose further restrictions on dog use. Hunters should verify any additional requirements or restrictions with the relevant agencies before pursuing bears on their property.

Bear Baiting Regulations in Utah

Permit and Registration Requirements

Under Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-13, hunters can bait bears only with a valid limited-entry permit for hunts specifically allowing bait use. A certificate of registration for baiting is also mandatory. All personnel tending to a bait station must be listed on this certificate. For registration details, hunters are encouraged to visit the official wildlife website.

Baiting Restrictions and Guidelines

  • Authorized Hunts Only: Baiting is permissible solely for hunts designated in the guidebook.
  • Bait Stations: A maximum of two bait stations is allowed during the season, and all bait must be free from materials like metal, glass, or plastic. The bait station must be marked with a sign provided by the Division.
  • Proximity to Features: Bait cannot be placed within 100 yards of water, public roads, or designated trails, or within a half-mile of dwellings or campgrounds.
  • Prohibited Bait: The use of chocolate or cocoa powder products is banned due to their toxicity to wildlife. Only nongame fish and domestic livestock or its parts are permissible, with proper proof of ownership or legal possession.

New Regulations

  • Written Permission for Shared Bait Sites: Hunters with valid bait permits may hunt over another hunter's bait site with written permission from the Certificate of Registration holder.
  • Division Location Approval Removed: While bait sites must comply with all regulations, the Division will no longer pre-approve specific bait locations before issuing a certificate.

Federal and Private Land Baiting

  • U.S. Forest Service Lands: No prior permission is needed from the USFS, but hunters should apply for a certificate of registration from the Division.
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lands: Verify open areas for baiting with BLM district offices and get verification of proposed baiting locations before applying for a certificate.
  • Private Lands: Written permission from landowners is required for baiting on private property.

Certificate of Registration Application

  • Available: Certificates are available from April 3, 2023, either in person at a Division office or online.
  • Required Information: Applicants must provide bait type, exact bait station location, and landowner permission if baiting on private land.
  • Application Fee: There is a $10 nonrefundable application fee.

Compliance and Clean-Up

  • Material Removal: All bait materials must be removed within 72 hours after the season ends or after a bear is harvested.
  • Station Relocation: To move a bait station, remove all bait from the original location and apply for a new certificate of registration.

Prohibited Hunting Methods for Black Bear

General Prohibitions

According to Utah Code §§ 23-20-3, 23-20-12, and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-9, black bears may only be taken or pursued during designated open seasons and hours using approved methods. It is illegal to:

  • Pursue, possess, capture, kill, injure, drug, rope, trap, snare, or in any way harm or transport a bear outside of lawful hunting practices.
  • Restrict or hinder a bear’s ability to escape after it has been pursued, chased, treed, cornered, legally baited, or held at bay. Hunters must make reasonable efforts to call off dogs in such situations.
  • Engage in repeated pursuits that physically exhaust the bear to the point it cannot escape.
  • Participate in canned hunts or take a bear from any airborne vehicle or motorized terrestrial, aquatic, or recreational vehicle.

Specific Method Prohibitions

Night-Vision Devices

Per Utah Admin. Rule R657-5-7, the use of night-vision devices to locate or attempt to locate a big game animal, cougar, or bear is prohibited from 48 hours before to 48 hours after any big game, cougar, or bear hunt in the area.

Trail Cameras and Data

Changes effective May 3, 2023, prohibit the use of trail cameras on public land from July 31 to December 31, with exceptions for research and monitoring by land management agencies. Additionally, the sale or purchase of trail camera footage or data that could aid in the take or attempted take of big game, cougars, or bears is prohibited. Trail cameras that utilize internal data storage may be used on private property for hunting purposes.

Spotlighting

Under Utah Code §§ 23-20-3, 76-10-504, 76-10-523, and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-10, spotlighting or using any artificial light to locate protected wildlife while in possession of a weapon capable of taking or injuring wildlife is illegal. This prohibition doesn't apply to the normal use of vehicle headlights or artificial light when there's no intent to locate wildlife.

Party Hunting

Per Utah Admin. Rules R657-33-11 and R657-67, an individual may not harvest a bear for another person, with the only exception being within the Hunter Mentoring program where a mentor shares a permit and tag with a minor.

Bear Possession and Transportation Guidelines

Tagging Requirements

Under Utah Code §§ 23-20-3 and 23-20-30 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-15, hunters must tag the bear's carcass with a temporary possession tag before moving it or leaving the kill site. This tag is valid for 48 hours post-kill and must remain attached until replaced by a permanent possession tag. Notches on the tag must correspond to the kill date and sex of the animal, and hunters must not pursue bears after the tag has been detached or altered.

Harvest Reporting

Per Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-17, hunters who harvest a bear must report to the Division within 48 hours, providing exact location details. A Division employee will then affix a permanent tag to the carcass. It's advised to make an appointment to check in the bear to ensure timely service.

Evidence of Sex and Age

Evidence of the bear’s sex must remain attached to the carcass or pelt until a Division employee affixes a permanent tag. The hunter must bring the pelt and skull to a Division office in an unfrozen condition for biologists to collect management data.

Permanent Tag

Any harvested bear must be checked by a Division employee within 48 hours of the kill, during which a permanent possession tag will be affixed to the carcass. The hunter must provide the harvest location and one of the bear’s teeth during check-in.

Transporting a Bear

Under Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-18, a permit holder may transport a harvested bear if it's properly tagged and they have the appropriate permit. This ensures that the bear is legally taken and accounted for.

Exporting a Bear from Utah

Per Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-19, exporting a legally taken bear or its parts out of Utah requires a valid bear permit and a permanent possession tag. To ship a bear pelt from Utah, a shipping permit from an authorized Division representative is necessary.

Guidelines for Disposal of Wildlife

Donating Wildlife

Under Utah Code § 23-20-9 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-20, individuals may donate protected wildlife or its parts, but only at specified locations including residences, meat lockers, storage plants, or meat-processing facilities. Donations must be accompanied by a written statement detailing the number and species donated, the date, license, or permit number of the donor, and the donor's signature. Forbear pelts, a permanent possession tag must be affixed, and the recipient must retain the written statement of donation.

Purchasing or Selling Wildlife Parts

Per Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-21, it's legal to purchase or sell tanned bear hides that have been legally obtained. However, it is illegal to buy, sell, offer for sale, or barter a green pelt or any part of a bear including the gall bladder, tooth, claw, paw, or skull.

Wasting Wildlife

According to Utah Code § 23-20-8 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-22, wasting any protected wildlife or its parts is prohibited. While the skinned carcass of a bear can be left in the field without constituting waste, it's recommended to remove it for ethical considerations and to respect the environment.

Managing Bear Depredation

Livestock and Commercial Crop Depredation

Utah Admin. Rule R657-33-23 provides bear removal options for livestock owners and commercial crop growers experiencing chronic depredation issues. Individuals facing such problems are encouraged to refer to the rule for detailed information or contact the nearest Division office. Hunters interested in taking depredating bears can also contact the Division to be called upon as needed, facilitating the management of bear populations in conflict areas.

Extended and Preseason Hunts

The Division may authorize extended or preseason hunts on selected limited-entry hunting units to address specific depredation or nuisance problems. These special hunts, decided by the Division director, aim to control and mitigate bear-related issues effectively. Hunters who have drawn limited-entry permits for the affected areas might be involved in carrying out these targeted hunts.

Understanding Trespass Laws in Wildlife Activities

Prohibitions on Private Land Entry

According to Utah Code §§ 23-20-14, 23-21-14, and 23-20-3.5, individuals taking wildlife or engaging in wildlife-related activities must not enter or remain on private lands without permission, especially if the land is:

  • Cultivated
  • Properly posted
  • Fenced or enclosed to exclude intruders

Further, individuals must not enter or remain on private land against the owner's directions or obstruct entrances or exits to such property.

Definitions and Permission Requirements

  • Cultivated Land: This refers to land prepared for raising crops or land that is being used to raise crops, as well as artificially irrigated pastures.
  • Permission: Written authorization from the landowner or manager is required to enter cultivated or properly posted private land. This permission must include the signature of the authority granting access, the name of the person given permission, relevant dates, and a description of the land.
  • Properly Posted: Land is considered properly posted if it has visible signs or markers such as bright yellow, bright orange, or fluorescent paint at all corners and other strategic locations like property lines, roads, gates, and rights-of-way.

Legal Consequences

Violating trespass laws while engaging in wildlife-related activities is a class B misdemeanor. Such violations can lead to legal penalties, including the suspension of hunting licenses, tags, or permit privileges. It's also illegal to take protected wildlife or parts thereof while trespassing.

Harvest and Pursuit Restrictions for Bear Hunting

Harvest Restrictions

Under Utah Code § 23-20-3 and Utah Admin. Rules R657-33-25 and R657-33-26, various restrictions apply depending on the permit type obtained. Key harvest restrictions include:

  • Limit of One Bear: Hunters with a valid permit may harvest only one bear, which cannot be a cub or a female accompanied by cubs.
  • Season and Area Specificity: Hunting must occur in the season and area specified on the permit, and only the weapon listed on the permit may be used.
  • Dog Limits: There are specified limits on the number of dogs that may be used during a bear hunt. If using dogs, the owner or handler must have a valid pursuit permit or bear hunting permit that allows the use of dogs.

Pursuit Restrictions

Pursuit permits strictly allow for the chase and tracking of bears, not their killing.

  • Limited Number of Dogs: During summer seasons, no more than eight dogs may be used for pursuit; the limit is 16 dogs during spring and fall seasons.
  • General Prohibitions: Pursuit is not allowed for cubs or female bears with cubs. Repeatedly pursuing the same bear on the same day or possessing a device capable of killing a bear (unless licensed for concealed carry) is prohibited.

Specifics for Pursuit Permits

  • General Pursuit Permits: Allow pursuit in any non-restricted unit during all three seasons. Nonresidents are limited in using their permits on restricted pursuit units unless accompanying a valid permit holder.
  • Restricted Pursuit Permits: Specific to restricted units and seasons listed on the permit, but may also be used in non-restricted units. There are special considerations for nonresident and resident hunters in specific regions and seasons.

Definitions Related to Bear Hunting

Accompany

On a restricted pursuit unit, the dog handler must remain close enough to the permit holder to maintain visual contact and verbal communication without electronic devices. The handler may only separate to retrieve stray dogs.

Bait

Any lure containing animal, mineral, or plant materials used to attract bears.

Baiting

The act of placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of bait to lure, attract, or entice bears on or over an area.

Bear

Ursus americanus, commonly known as the black bear.

Canned Hunt

A bear is treed, cornered, held at bay, or its ability to escape is otherwise restricted to allow a person, who was not a member of the initial hunting party, to arrive and take the bear.

Carcass

The dead body of an animal or its parts.

Certificate of Registration

A document issued under the Wildlife Resources Code granting authority to engage in activities not covered by a license, permit, or tag.

Compensation

Anything of economic value in excess of $100 paid or transferred to a dog handler for pursuing bear.

Cub

A bear less than one year of age.

Cultivated Land

Land whose soil is loosened or broken up for raising crops, land used for raising crops, or pasturage that is artificially irrigated.

Division

The Division of Wildlife Resources.

Dog Handler

The person in the field responsible for transporting, releasing, tracking, controlling, managing, training, commanding, and retrieving the dogs involved in the pursuit of bears. The owner is presumed to be the handler when present during the pursuit.

Domicile

The fixed permanent home and principal establishment of an individual, to which they intend to return.

Draw-Lock

A mechanical device used to hold and support the draw weight of a conventional or compound bow until released by the archer using a trigger mechanism.

Evidence of Sex

The sex organs of a bear, including a penis, scrotum, or vulva.

Green Pelt

The untanned hide or skin of any bear.

Harvest-Objective Hunt

Any hunt identified as harvest-objective in the guidebook.

Harvest-Objective Permit

A permit valid on harvest-objective units.

Harvest-Objective Unit

Any unit designated as harvest-objective in the guidebook.

Highway

The entire width between property lines of every way or place open to the public for vehicular travel.

Hunting

To take or pursue a reptile, amphibian, bird, or mammal by any means.

Hunting Mentor

A resident or nonresident individual possessing a valid permit to take protected wildlife in Utah and who is 21 years of age or older.

Limited-Entry Hunt

Any hunt listed in the guidebook identified as a limited-entry hunt for bear, excluding harvest-objective hunts or pursuit only.

Limited-Entry Permit

Any permit obtained for a limited-entry hunt by any means.

Livestock

Cattle, sheep, goats, and turkeys.

Night-Vision Device

Anything that enhances visible and non-visible light, including night-vision, thermal-imaging, and infrared-imaged devices. Trail cameras are excluded.

Nonresident

A person who does not qualify as a resident.

Permit

A document granting authority to engage in specified activities under the Wildlife Resources Code.

Private Lands

Lands that are not public lands, excluding Native American Trust Lands.

Protected Wildlife

Animals defined in the "wildlife" definition except certain specified species.

Public Lands

Lands owned by the state, a political subdivision, or the United States that are open to the public for pursuit.

Pursue

To chase, tree, corner, or hold a bear at bay.

Qualifying Minor

A Utah Resident under 18 at the time of application for the Mentor Program and otherwise eligible to lawfully hunt.

Resident

A person with a domicile in Utah for six consecutive months immediately preceding the purchase of a license or permit, and not claiming residency elsewhere for hunting, fishing, or trapping.

Restricted Pursuit Permit

A limited-entry permit issued for pursuing bears with trained dogs under specific restrictions.

Restricted Pursuit Unit

A bear pursuit unit where pursuit is allowed only with special authorization.

Spot-and-Stalk

A hunting method where a hunter must locate, pursue, and harvest a bear without using dogs or bait.

Tag

A card, label, or other identification device issued for attachment to the carcass of protected wildlife.

Take

To hunt, pursue, harass, catch, capture, possess, angle, seine, trap, or kill any protected wildlife, or attempt any of the above actions.

Trail Camera

A device used to capture images, video, or location data of wildlife triggered by heat or motion.

Trapping

Taking protected wildlife with a trapping device.

Valid Application

An application for a species for which the applicant is eligible to possess a permit.

Waiting Period

A specified period a person must wait before applying for another bear permit or restricted bear pursuit permit.

Wildlife

Crustaceans and all vertebrate animals living in nature, except feral animals.

Written Permission

Written authorization from the owner or person in charge to enter upon private lands.

Frequently Asked Questions for Bear Hunting in Utah

1. How do I obtain a bear hunting permit in Utah?

Answer: Apply through the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources either online or at a Division office. Ensure you meet all eligibility criteria and apply within the application period for your desired hunt.

2. Can I use dogs for bear hunting in Utah?

Answer: Yes, but only during specific hunts that allow the use of dogs. Be mindful of the number of dogs allowed and ensure you have the proper permit.

3. What is a green pelt and how should it be handled?

Answer: A green pelt is the untanned hide or skin of any bear. It must have a permanent possession tag affixed before being transported or donated, and certain conditions apply if you wish to sell it.

4. What are the penalties for hunting bears illegally in Utah?

Answer: Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, and suspension of hunting privileges. Specific consequences depend on the severity of the violation.

5. How do I report a harvested bear in Utah?

Answer: Contact the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources within 48 hours of the harvest to report the kill and arrange for the permanent tagging of the bear.

6. Are there any restrictions on the type of weapons I can use for bear hunting?

Answer: Yes, only certain firearms and archery equipment are permitted. The weapon allowed will be specified on your hunting permit.

7. What is baiting and what are the regulations for it in Utah?

Answer: Baiting is using lures to attract bears to a specific area for hunting. Strict regulations include types of bait allowed, placement of bait stations, and obtaining a certificate of registration.

8. How can I avoid trespassing while bear hunting in Utah?

Answer: Always seek written permission to hunt on private land, respect cultivated land and properly posted signs, and avoid fenced or enclosed areas designed to exclude intruders.

9. What should I do if I encounter a bear while hunting other wildlife?

Answer: Do not engage or pursue the bear unless you have a specific bear hunting permit for that season and area. Always prioritize safety and follow legal guidelines.

10. What are the rules for transporting a harvested bear in Utah?

Answer: The bear must be properly tagged with a temporary or permanent possession tag, and you must have the appropriate permit with you during transportation.

11. Can I donate a harvested bear or its parts in Utah?

Answer: Yes, but you must do so at specified locations and accompany the donation with a written statement detailing the donation and maintaining a permanent possession tag on the green pelt.

12. What are the best practices for bear baiting in Utah?

Answer: Use permissible bait types, avoid placing bait near water or public roads, and ensure all bait materials are removed promptly after the hunting season or a successful hunt.

13. How can I participate in an extended or preseason hunt for bears in Utah?

Answer: The Division may authorize these special hunts in certain areas for depredation or nuisance control. Stay informed through the Division's announcements and apply accordingly.

14. What is a pursuit permit and how is it different from a harvest permit?

Answer: A pursuit permit allows you to chase and track bears without killing them, often for training dogs. A harvest permit is required to actually hunt and take a bear.

15. Are nonresidents allowed to hunt bears in Utah?

Answer: Yes, nonresidents can apply for bear hunting permits but must adhere to all Utah hunting regulations and may face certain restrictions on where and when they can hunt.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.