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Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife (SFW) held several town hall-style meetings with hunters in many parts of the Beehive State in recent weeks. The purpose was to outline SFW’s Mule Deer Now initiative, a bold new plan to increase Utah’s Mule Deer populations. Roughly 360 SFW members/hunters met with Utah Governor Herbert in Cache Valley and a week earlier more than 400 hunters attended the meeting in Cedar City.
“Mule deer is our number one priority species, and our members are focused keenly on improving both quantity and quality of our deer population,” said SFW President Byron Bateman. “There is a lot of energy among hunters to do something to fix the declining deer herds in Utah, and we need to do it now.”
Such support and hunter turn out at these meetings sends clear messages to state game and fish managers and elected officials. SFW Founder Don Peay said, “In a small northern Utah town, 400 people came to a public meeting with Utah Governor Gary Herbert. Forty of them came to talk about taxes, energy, education and immigration. But 360 of them were hunters who want to fix our deer herd and keep wolves out of Utah.”
Governor Herbert made it clear that restoring Utah’s mule deer numbers is a big priority for him. Dr. Dwight Israelsen, a passionate mule deer hunter and chair of Utah State’s economics department, also addressed the crowd and Governor Herbert regarding the critical need to fix Utah’s mule deer.
On Governor Herbert’s Facebook page was posted this message about the Mule Deer meeting: “Had a great time last night in Wellsville speaking with an auditorium full of Sportsman about public lands and wildlife management. Thanks to the Cache Republican Party for hosting a great event.”
SFW is holding additional meetings throughout the state in partnership with Big Game Forever, an organization dedicated to preserving ungulate species of North America. SFW’s Mule Deer Now initiative outlines four major objectives for Utah Mule Deer:
- Make Mule Deer recovery in Utah a primary objective.
- Manage Mule Deer to produce and sustain a minimum 400,000 mule deer population statewide.
- Dramatically increase predator control funding and efforts in each county within Utah.
- Set Mule Deer hunting permit numbers annually, and decrease the number of tags when necessary, according to mule deer populations and buck-to-doe ratios within each of Utah’s 30 individual mule deer regions.