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Bonus point system might see some changes

Hunting News | Utah Fishing News

The Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending several changes to Utah's bonus point and preference point system.

The two systems help ensure that everyone gets a chance to hunt some of Utah's biggest big game animals in the areas where they want to hunt them the most.

Learn more, share your ideas

All of the DWR's big game proposals are available in the public meetings section of our website at www.wildlife.utah.gov. Once you've read the proposals, you can share your thoughts and ideas one of two ways:

RAC meetings

Five Regional Advisory Council meetings will be held across Utah. Citizens representing the RACs will take the input received at the meetings to the Utah Wildlife Board. Board members will use the input when they meet in Salt Lake City on Dec. 4 to approve rules for Utah's 2009 big game hunts.

You can participate and provide your input at any of the following meetings (two notes: the Southern Region meeting begins at 5 p.m. The Central Region meeting is being held on a Thursday.):

Southern Region
Nov. 4
5 p.m.
Beaver High School
195 E. Center St.
Beaver

Southeastern Region
Nov. 5
6:30 p.m.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
Green River

Northeastern Region
Nov. 6
6:30 p.m.
Uintah Interagency Fire Center
355 N. Vernal Ave.
Vernal

Northern Region
Nov. 12
6 p.m.
Weber Commission Chambers
1st floor
2383 Washington Blvd.
Ogden

Central Region
Nov. 13
6:30 p.m.
Springville Junior High School
165 S. 700 E.
Springville

E–mail

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e–mail. E–mail addresses for your RAC members are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.

The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non–consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's e–mail address. You should direct your e–mail to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.

Proposed changes

The DWR is recommending four major changes for 2009. The agency's ideas, and the challenges those ideas address, are listed below:

Challenge: It's not a widespread problem, but the number of people who are using someone else's bonus points to get a permit is increasing. Here's what people are doing:

Up to four hunters can apply as a group for limited entry elk, deer and pronghorn permits. Someone with a high number of bonus points agrees to apply in a group with someone who has a low number of points. Applying with someone who has a high number of points increases the odds that the person with a low number of points draws a permit.

After both hunters draw their permit, the person with the highest number of points surrenders his permit to the DWR.

Under the current system, he gets all of the bonus points he accrued up to that year back. And he gets another bonus point for surrendering his permit.

The next year, he offers again to apply with someone who has a low number of points.

Possible solution: To stop this practice, the DWR has two ideas:

* Do away with group applications for limited entry elk, deer or pronghorn permits; or,
* Continue to accept group applications, but no longer award a bonus point to those who surrender a limited entry elk, deer or pronghorn permit.

Challenge: Some of Utah's big game permits are hard to draw. For example, it usually takes a Utah resident up to 15 years to draw a limited entry elk permit.

Possible solution: Reward hunters who regularly apply by removing bonus points from those who rarely apply.

Under this proposal, hunters who go three consecutive years without applying for a permit or a bonus point would lose any bonus points they had accrued. If they apply again in the future, they would have no bonus points. They'd have to start accruing bonus points all over again.

"This change would reward those who apply for a permit at least once every three years," says Greg Sheehan, chief of the DWR's Administrative Services Section.

Challenge: Hunters may apply for one limited entry permit and one once-in-a-lifetime permit. If you want to hunt two species (for example, limited entry elk and limited entry deer) you may never get a chance to. The current system allows you to accrue bonus points for only one of the two species.

Possible solution: Continue to allow hunters to apply for only one limited entry species and one once-in-a-lifetime species, but let them also apply for bonus points for other species.

Challenge: Preference points are awarded to hunters who don't draw any of the choices they list on their general buck deer permit application. Because many hunters want a preference point if they don't draw their first choice, many are applying for only one hunt.

When permits that weren't taken in the draw are offered over-the-counter in June, the permits go fast. This often creates Internet-related problems for the DWR and frustration for hunters.

Possible solution: Award a preference point to applicants for their first choice, even if they draw a permit for their second, third, fourth or fifth choice.

This change would encourage hunters to apply for more than one region because they wouldn't be penalized if they drew a permit for their second, third, fourth or fifth choice. Because they'd still receive a preference point for not drawing their first choice, they'd have a better chance the following year to draw a permit for the region they wanted to hunt the most.

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