Utah Wildlife Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,162 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been hunting the Sanpitch mountains for over a quarter century. So when I saw a bear a few years ago, it was extraordinary. Never saw a bear or sign of bears there before. I figured it was a bear from the Nebo, dislocated by the big fire we had.

But this year I found evidence of bears all over the place. In fact, my best honey holes aren't honey holes anymore because bears have moved in.

Always thought a spot and stalk archery bear permit was a joke, but this year I've had 3 bears in range...on the Sanpitch where there's never any bears.

So I'm wondering what's going on. DWR agrees that bear population is increasing. Houndsmen concur. Harvest stats concur.

We're all agreed that the bear population is growing, leaps and bounds. My question is why? Utah has more bears right now than ever recorded. We're not talking about a decade cycle. We're talking records.

What are the conditions that promote such an amazing population increase?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,524 Posts
One of my colleagues saw two bears on the Sanpitch Range in one day this past Spring. Could be localized growth from displaced bears off Nebo and Manti, could be they were there all along and you're just getting better/wiser/more patient so you're seeing more, could be generalized growth because of conservative management practices, habitat improvement or something like that.

Based on the new hunts and tag numbers, I'm certain your perception is accurate--there are a lot more bears in Utah. However, there have been a lot of bears harvested this year, too. It will be interesting to see the final harvest data and population estimates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
796 Posts
Numbers of bears are most certainly up. As a kid, it was a novelty just seeing some bear sign. Now I am disappointed if I don't see a bear every day where we hunt.

Still, while harvest numbers are good, I am surprised at the lack of success for the Spot and Stalk hunts on the La Sal and San Juan units. I realize there's other factors there, but the amount of bear I see every time I am there, it surprises me that the success rate is still around 17-18%. I have a copy of the 2014 annual report that is their final rough draft.

I think that as far as success of harvest on these two units goes that people are putting in for the hunts as the spot and stalk are easier to draw, and hunting bear maybe is a novelty hunt to them and they've never so much as stepped foot on the La Sal Mtns or San Juan. Seems crazy that last year on La Sal, 5 bears were harvested during the spot and stalk out of 30 permits (Res & Non Res). San Juan wasn't much better.

My experience with bear in these regions is that they are pretty comfortable with humans so I honestly don't know that the hunts going on all fall really bother them too much. Maybe I am wrong!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,323 Posts
We're all agreed that the bear population is growing, leaps and bounds. My question is why? Utah has more bears right now than ever recorded. We're not talking about a decade cycle. We're talking records.

What are the conditions that promote such an amazing population increase?
Though bear populations may be at recorded highs, they are far from approaching populations in the pre settlement days. If you believe the accounts of the early hunters and trappers, bear were much more numerous than deer or elk in many areas. My personal belief is that bear numbers have been artificially suppressed by humans over the last 150 years in Utah and now that we have grown more tolerant of their existence the last few years bear populations are increasing to fill up available habitat.

I also think the severe over grazing in the first half of the twentieth century contributed to a drop in bear habitat. The pre settlement grasslands were replaced by brushy plants cattle and other livestock found less palatable. While this evolution was good for mule deer numbers that rely on brushy plants for browse, grassland centered species like bear and elk suffered. Now that livestock grazing is more carefully monitored, I think Utah wild lands are slowly reverting back to the grasslands of pre settlement days benefitting species like bear and elk.

Anyway, these are the thoughts of an old houndogger....
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top