UPDATE: 4/30/23 1:20 P.M.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has extended the closure of four wildlife management areas as they still have several feet of snow on them, according to a press release.

The opening of these four areas in northern Utah, which was scheduled for May 1, has been pushed to May 15:

  • Swan Creek, Rich County
  • Woodruff Coop, Rich County
  • Middle Fork, Weber County
  • Kamas, Summit County

The extension of this closure comes as a continued effort to protect deer and pronghorn that are still wintering in deep snow in the areas, DWR states.

For more information about the extended closure, call the DWR’s Northern Region office at 801-476-2740.

ORIGINAL POST: 4/4/23 11:29 A.M.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has closed 24 wildlife management areas in an effort to protect wintering deer, according to a press release.

DWR says that though many wildlife management areas in northern Utah are currently scheduled to reopen to the public on April 8, their closure will now be extended until April 30. Additionally, DWR is closing other wildlife management areas in central Utah through April.

The decision reportedly comes as an effort to help protect wintering deer and other big game, in alignment with the acquisition of these areas back in the late 1940s.

Wildlife in Utah reportedly has a difficult time finding food during the winter months, relying heavily on body fat reserves to last them through the scarcity of food. “Mid-winter and early spring are especially vulnerable times for these animals,” DWR states.

DWR cites the following reasons for why the 194 wildlife and waterfowl management areas exist in Utah in the first place:

  • To conserve critical habitats for wildlife
  • To help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property
  • To provide anglers and hunters — who provide funding for the WMAs through the purchase of a fishing or hunting license — a place to hunt and fish in Utah

The most recent issue, according to DWR, is “variations in fawn and doe survival.” DWR Big Game Coordinator Dax Mangus says, “Unfortunately, the deer herds in the northern areas of the state were hit pretty hard this winter, and despite our feeding efforts, we are seeing high mortality rates in some areas. In these types of conditions, big game animals are weakened and highly vulnerable to repeated, ongoing human-caused disturbances, so we’d like to prevent any unnecessary disturbances to the deer during this sensitive time of year.”

Here are the wildlife management areas that will be closed to all public access through April 30:

Northern Utah

  • Brigham Face WMA in Box Elder County
  • Coldwater Canyon WMA in Box Elder County
  • Richmond WMA in Cache County
  • Millville-Providence WMA in Cache County
  • Hardware WMA in Cache County
  • Dry Canyon Conservation Easement in Cache County
  • East Canyon WMA in Morgan County
  • Swan Creek WMA in Rich County
  • Woodruff Co-Op WMA in Rich County
  • Kamas WMA in Summit County
  • Henefer-Echo WMA in Summit County
  • Middle Fork WMA in Weber County

Central Utah

  • Wallsburg WMA in Wasatch County
  • Timpanogos WMA in Utah County (however, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which cuts through the lower portion of the WMA, will still be open to public access.)
  • Dairy Fork WMA in Utah County
  • Lake Fork WMA in Utah County
  • Birdseye WMA in Utah County
  • Lasson Draw WMA in Utah County
  • Spencer Fork WMA in Utah and Sanpete counties
  • Pine Canyon Conservation Easement in Tooele County
  • Santaquin WMA in Utah and Juab counties
  • Mona Bench WMA in Juab County
  • Big Hollow WMA in Sanpete County
  • Christensen Spring WMA in Sanpete County

DWR Habitat Section Chief Eric Edgley says, “While we would like to provide recreational opportunities on our WMAs in April, we need to protect vulnerable wildlife populations that have been impacted by the severe winter conditions.”

DWR conservation officers will reportedly have a larger presence on these areas to enforce the closures. More information on wildlife management areas and waterfowl management areas in Utah can be found here.