Hunting is a popular and traditional pastime and it has been for centuries. Here in southern Utah hunting is particularly popular. While hunting may be considered a sport to many, it has benefits that can help the environment and the species being hunted as well.
Southern Utah is full of wildlife and many species of animals. There are birds, including ducks, and other waterfowl, big game species such as the pronghorns, deer, elk, mountain goats and even bighorn sheep. All this variety is just in Southern Utah and doesn’t include some other species that can be found throughout the rest of the state.
Deer and Elk remain among the most popular animals to hunt. Two years ago, in 2015, a total of 34,856 deer were hunted according to Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources. That number includes both bucks and antlerless deer.
Hunting is considered a sport and has been for many years. There are some people who believe that hunting is nothing more than mindless killing. However, according to Phil Tuttle at the Division of Wildlife Resources, it’s the other way around.
Instead of causing damage to the ecosystems of southern Utah, hunting provides balance for the ecosystems. Without hunting certain species would continue to grow unchecked and would eventually become overpopulated and cause problems throughout the ecosystem, including the spread of disease within the species.
“As a human, I want to be a part of that natural ecosystem and enjoy that traditional pastime,” Tuttle said.
Hunting also pays for the conservation of different species. Taxes are attached to items that hunters pay for in order to hunt, and this money helps pay for species conservation efforts.
Utah’s DWR follows the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The model was implicated in the late 1800s when several species almost became extinct with the rise of sportsmen. The two principles of the model are that fish and wildlife are not for commercial use and they should be maintained at optimal population levels.
The DWR closely monitors and surveys animals to make sure they have a handle on the species’ populations. They do this mostly through permits and controlling the hunters afield by issuing tags.
Hunting is also a way of providing a sustainable food source. By maintaining animal populations, it has proven to be sustainable. The meat from hunting is highly desirable and hormone free.
The practice of hunting for fun and sport is the most controversial part of hunting. While hunting is a popular pastime in the area and widely accepted, there are some opposed who feel that hunters needlessly kill for fun. Still, hunting remains a way to get out into nature with family or friends and it is beneficial to the ecosystem.
Learn more about hunting in Utah and the permits needed at the DWR’s website which is accessible through www.wildlife.utah.gov.