Last year the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources sold 660 antlerless elk permits on the south slope of the Uinta Mountains. A total of 419 animals were harvested.
During the 1998 hunting season, however, the DWR will issue no anterless elk permits for the south slope because recommended elk numbers have been reached. The Ute Indian Tribe has removed about 1,600 elk over the past two years.The tribe began rounding up cow elk by helicopter in 1996 in an attempt to stabilize the herds that were damaging farm and ranch lands in the Clay Basin. The tribe either sold the elk or traded them for other wildlife. A few hundred were taken in hunts by both tribal and non-tribal members.
During a DWR Regional Advisory Council meeting last week in Vernal, Ute Tribe Fish and Game Director Bobby Chapoose said the tribe plans to remove cow elk - through helicopter roundups and hunts - on the south slope of the reservation at a rate of about 800 a year until they have reached their stabilization goal of about 3,500.
This hunting season the tribe will continue to sell antlerless elk permits to tribal members and non-members on the reservation's south slope, but the state will not. Chapoose said 200 antlerless elk permits will be sold to the general public and 200 either sex permits will be available to tribal members.
During a DWR Regional Advisory Council meeting in Vernal last week, hunters from Duchesne County's Upper Country told DWR officials they believe far too many elk are being taken in the helicopter roundups.
Mountain Home resident Russ Lee told DWR officials that the elk being killed are not edible from the effects of running to escape the helicopters.
"If I don't get an elk, I don't get an elk. If I do, I expect it to be edible," he said.
DWR officials say they understand the sportsmen's frustration, but there is little they can do to stop the helicopter roundup.