Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
At their meeting on Jan. 10, 2019, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved changes that will guide black bear hunting in Utah for the next three years. Starting this season, hunters will have more chances to spot and stalk bears in Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Starting this season, hunters will have more chances to spot and stalk bears in Utah.

At their meeting on Jan. 10, members of the Utah Wildlife Board — a panel of seven citizens appointed by the governor — approved changes that will guide black bear hunting in Utah for the next three years.

Darren DeBloois, game mammals coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said in a statement the additional spot-and-stalk hunts will give more hunters a chance to hunt bears while increasing the number of bears taken only slightly.

"The success rate on spot-and-stalk hunts is similar to archery hunting for deer," DeBloois said. "We can offer more opportunities to spot-and-stalk because the number of bears taken with spot-and-stalk is lower than other types of hunting."

During spot-and-stalk hunts, hunters can't pursue bears with hounds or use bait to lure bears in. Instead, hunters walk through the forest, hoping to spot a bear that they can stalk and take.

According to the agency, spot-and-stalk hunts were held mostly on the LaSal and San Juan units in southeastern Utah, which have the highest density of bears in the state. "Despite the high bear numbers," DeBloois said, "only 10 to 15 percent of those who spot-and-stalk on the units take a bear. The success rate is similar to archery big game hunting. And those two units have a lot of bears. The success rate might be lower on units with fewer bears."

4 comments on this story

Over the next three years, spot-and-stalk hunts will be held on 11 units in Utah. On three of the units, an unlimited number of permits will be sold, but the hunt will end as soon as three bears are taken on each unit. On the remaining units, 205 permits will be offered. Based on a 10 percent success rate, DWR biologists estimate that less than 25 bears will be taken during the spot-and-stalk hunts.

DeBloois said that if something out of the ordinary happens to the bear population before the three-year period is over, a couple of "safety valves" are in place that allow immediate changes to be made.

"One is to meet with the wildlife board, explain the situation and ask the board to make some changes," DeBloois said. "If we're facing a critical situation, the director of the DWR has the authority to close hunts down."