SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Utah Wildlife Board approved a decrease in the number of general-season permits for 2021 deer hunting Thursday.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said the decision to make the decrease was made in order to maintain healthy wildlife population levels across the state.

The current management plan includes an objective to have just over 400,000 deer across Utah, according to a news release. There are currently an estimated 314,850 deer in the state.

During a public meeting Thursday, the board approved 74,025 general-season deer hunting permits for 2021, a 5,650-permit decrease from 2020. Of the 29 total deer hunting units across the state, 17 have decreased permit numbers compared to 2020.

“We’ve had a few drought years in Utah recently, which has a significant impact on the survival rates of deer,” DWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones said.

“In Utah, we have the longest range-trend study in the Western U.S., and we’ve seen that having suitable habitat is crucial for maintaining or growing wildlife populations. And drought conditions can really negatively impact that habitat, which in turn affects our wildlife species,” Jones added.

However, the wildlife board did add antlerless hunts to address damage to agricultural areas caused by big game.

“Antlerless deer hunts are designed to reduce depredation on private lands, tackle urban deer issues, address chronic wasting disease hot spot areas, and to help slow the decline of range conditions,” Jones said. 

To watch the full Wildlife Board meeting, click here.