DWR reminds citizens that trespassing on protected lands harms Utah’s animals
SALT LAKE CITY –– Trespassers, including hikers and bikers, are encroaching on critical Utah wildlife protection areas during the most critical time of year for the animals, according to Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources.
The DWR said it has cited 14 people for trespassing on wildlife and waterfowl management areas during season closures. Seven of this year’s citations were issued to target shooters but the DWR said typically the majority of the citations are from trespassers who are hiking and biking..
With fees gathered from hunting and fishing license sales, the agency purchases wildlife / waterfowl management areas that also give residents areas to hunt and fish. DWR said trespassers encroach on the 193 WMAs throughout Utah, that total over 500,000 acres or 780 square miles. The areas are critical to deer, weak after a long winer, and to ducks, geese and other birds that feed and migrate in the area. Some stay to nest and raise young.
“Most of the wildlife management areas in northern Utah are closed annually from Jan. 1 until the second Saturday in April,” DWR said in a statement. “Waterfowl management areas in northern Utah are closed until Aug. 1. Several wildlife management areas in central Utah are closed to vehicle traffic (including ATVs) from Dec. 1 to April 30. Signs are posted at the WMA entrances with details of their closures.”
The state agency purchases and maintains areas of land to help wildlife and to preserve critical habitat, minimize wildlife depredation on private property and preserve hunting and fishing areas. They were first established in the 1940s. Some are a couple of dozen acres and range in size up to 10,000 acres. The DWR provides a map that serves as a guideline as conditions on the group constantly change.
It stressed that encroaching on lands used by deer after a winter with little food, along with a change in the animals’ diet can stress them further. The release stated from January to mid-April is the most critical time of the year for deer in Utah. DWR Lt. David Beveridge said:
Combine a lack of nutrition with being weak after a long winter, and it’s easy to see how critical it is that people not cause the deer added stress. If you spook an animal and cause it to run, the animal has to use up fat reserves and energy that it needs to make it through the winter.
For a list of the areas visit https://wildlife.utah.gov/wmas.html where answers to frequently asked questions are also available.
“WMAs are not multi-use lands, and the types of recreation allowed are limited. For details about whether you may enter a Utah WMA or what you are allowed to do there, check the Wildlife Recreation Access Maps,” DWR stated. “For WMAs that allow public access, use of these lands, including for camping (where it is allowed) is free of charge.”
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