Even if you have your own land, state officials still regulate hunting out of season. Those who own enough land to hunt on may wonder why the state still controls what they can and cannot do. The answer is simple if frustrating. While private landowners may own the land, the state owns the game.
The State of Utah manages the population of all different game animals. Killing too many animals, even for food, negatively impacts the natural ecosystem. The State of Utah maintains a population objective for game animal populations.
On occasion, higher game animal populations pose risks in offsetting the ecosystem requiring population control. On these occasions, the State may incentivize hunters to hunt specific animals to control the population.
Migrating Animals During Hunting Season
An example of the state stepping in to manage game animal population occurred recently.
A study observing the movement of elk during hunting season found that elk populations migrate to private lands where it is safer. In the 2015 study, researchers tagged elk with GPS tags and tracked them throughout the hunting season.
That year, hunters had it tough. Of the nearly 13,000 hunters taking to the country, less than 30% had a successful hunt. That is because over 70% of the elk wearing GPS collars were on private lands through most of the season.
Game animals retreating to private lands mid-season can cause a problem in controlling the population.
The State government restricted private landowners from hunting on their properties until recently. Migrating herds posed an ecological problem, so the state began a new hunting program to help resolve the migration and population problems.
The Use of Private-Lands-Only Permits
Elk migration can cause problems for private landowners. Large herds grazing on private land can upset the purposes of that land, be it for grazing or recreation.
Many private landowners entered the Utah Cooperative Wildlife Management Program to allow hunters on their private lands. Because of this program, private landowners and whoever they gave written permission to could hunt elk cows with any legal weapon throughout elk season.
The hope behind the program is to push elk herds back onto public lands so private landowners don’t continue having issues with large elk herds parading through their territory.
Hunters are only allowed to hunt on private lands that are part of the agreement. Hunting on public lands, protected tribal lands, or properties not part of the agreement is punishable by fines and possible jail time.
You Mean I can’t Hunt On My Own Land?
You cannot legally hunt on your own property without a permit.
It may seem ludicrous, but the logic is that wild animals don’t belong to anybody; they belong to State governments.
Hunting without a permit is considered poaching and is punishable by hefty fines. In Utah, the state will charge hunters convicted of illegally killing or keeping any protected creatures with restitution payments. Fines exist for the following animals:
- Bighorn Sheep-$30,000.
- Mountain Goat-$6,000.
In addition to fines, poachers can receive jail time and have their hunting and fishing licenses revoked across all the states, excluding Hawaii.
The State uses funds to reward other hunters for helping to catch and convict poachers.
Legal Hunting Without a Permit
There are animals considered nuisances and are legal to hunt year-round without a permit.
Some animals run rampantly in populations larger than the state can regulate. Consequently, Utah has made it legal to hunt a few animals out of season.
Some of the animals to hunt out-of-season and that do not require a permit are:
- Jack Rabbits.
- Red Foxes.
- Striped skunks.
- Eurasian Collared-Doves.
These animals are either non-native invasive species or are nuisances in populations too large to be controlled.
The state of Utah incentivizes hunters to assist in controlling coyote populations. Following the proper methods, hunters can receive a bounty of $50 for each coyote killed.
Avoid These Mistakes!
Avoid these common mistakes if you want to avoid fines and possible jail time.
- Obtain Written Permission from the Landowner
If you want to hunt on someone’s private property, get written permission before doing so.
Whenever dealing with anything that can get you into legal trouble, be sure to have indisputable proof so there is no chance of any negative legal fallout. Getting legal proof can verify intent and clarify misconceptions.
If there were any misconceptions about intent, you have the written proof that the landowner did give their permission to allow you to hunt on their lands. So, if the landowner reports you to the DWR during your hunt, you have solid legal protection.
- Purchase a License
Don’t forget the most critical part of hunting, your legal protection!
Without a license and a tag, you risk poaching convictions which can cost you thousands of dollars in restitution and years in prison! Plan to get your license and tags, and don’t be caught off guard!
- Don’t Hunt on Public Land
Remember, this does not apply to public land or reservations. Private-lands-only permits are only for hunting on private lands part of the Utah Cooperative Wildlife Management Program.
Hunting on reservations or public lands without the proper documentation is likely to result in legal trouble.
Get a Private Guide to Help You Avoid Legal Trouble
Do you know the ins and outs of the hunting industry? Do you have years of experience navigating the legal nuances of hunting? Do you have years of scouting and tracking under your belt?
If the answer to these questions is no, consider hiring professional help. Hunting may already be an expensive hobby, but can you afford the cost of doing it the wrong way?
The professional guides at The R&K Hunting company have years of experience delivering satisfaction. If you hunt with us, we’ll help you along every step of the way.
Start planning your hunting trip now! We’re excited to see you out there!