Seven wildlife management areas to close until spring to protect animals

Winter is the toughest time of year for mule deer in Utah. Deep snow makes it harder to find food. And prolonged cold weather can sap a deer's strength. Photo: DWR/Mark Hadley

UTAH, Dec. 19, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will close seven wildlife management areas for about three months starting Jan. 1 in an effort to protect wildlife.

“Winter and early spring are the toughest and most critical times of the year for big game animals, especially deer,” says a statement issued by the DWR. “Cold temperatures and pushing through deep snow sap their strength. And, the snow buries much of their food. As winter progresses, deer get weaker and weaker.

To help protect the animals, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources annually closes seven wildlife management areas in northern Utah. The closure runs Jan. 1 through April 9 in 2021.

The only exception is the Henefer-Echo WMA in Summit County. Those who obtained a late-season cow elk hunting permit for the area can hunt on the WMA from Jan. 1 through 24, 2021, the statement says.

“Except for the cow elk hunt, no public activities of any kind can take place while the WMAs are closed. Even taking a leisurely walk through a WMA is off limits until April 10.”

Scott Walker, regional habitat manager for the DWR, says the seven WMAs provide critical winter habitat for mule deer.

“They also give the animals a refuge where they can remain undisturbed during the most critical time of the year,” he said. “If you trespass on a WMA and disturb an animal, the animal has to use some of its energy reserves to escape. Once an animal uses up its energy reserves, it dies.”

Some people don’t understand what they’re doing to the deer, or they don’t care, the statement says. For example, every year, people who want to hike through the Millville-Providence WMA in Cache County cut fences next to closure signs.

Those who are caught trespassing on any of the seven WMAs face a fine that typically starts at $210. Those who vandalize property will face stiffer penalties for criminal mischief.

With the exception of the Henefer-Echo WMA, the following WMAs in northern Utah are closed Jan. 1–April 9, 2021:

Cache County: Millville-Providence WMA, Richmond WMA

Box Elder County: Brigham Face WMA, Coldwater Canyon WMA

Weber County: Middle Fork WMA

Morgan County: East Canyon WMA

Summit County: Henefer-Echo WMA. Again, the Henefer-Echo WMA will be open Jan. 1 through 24 only for those who obtained a cow elk hunting permit for the area. No other activities can take place.

To ask questions about the closures, contact the DWR’s Ogden office at 801-476-2740.

Deep snow is making it difficult for deer, moose and elk to find food in parts of Utah this winter. To avoid stressing the animals, you’ll have to wait until April 1 to gather shed antlers in 11 counties. Photo: DWR/Mark Hadley

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