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Wildlife management areas see increased violations

Providence Canyon during peak hunting season
Katie Umphlett
Utah Public Radio
Providence Canyon during peak hunting season

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, DWR, acquired land in the 1940s to protect the ecosystem and provide hunters and anglers with a safe place to recreate. However, as visitation to Wildlife Management areas, which are funded by hunters, increases, so do the violations. DWR issued ten citations on Cache County’s 3,200-acre Millville-Providence Wildlife Management Area in June alone this year. Mark Hadley is the Outreach Manager for DWR’s Northern Region.

Hadley said, “We've had people walk right past the no overnight camping signs and set up camp ... the target shooting signs, we put those up and we go back and somebody's used the sign for target practice.”

There are growing concerns about how these violations will impact both the wildlife and community at large in Northern Utah. Hikers face a risk of being hit by stray bullets and, as Hadley notes, unattended fires can have dire consequences.

“We are in prolonged drought … all it takes is a spark in a really dry area and you could have a wildfire on your hands," Hadley said.

The problems that Hadley and others at DWR are facing are not restricted to Millville-Providence. Across Northern Utah, law enforcement is receiving complaints of trash traveling downstream to irrigation channels, domestic violence incidents and destruction of property. As people continue to journey outdoors Hadley says it is important to follow the rules and recreate responsibly because everyone benefits from preserved lands and protected wildlife.

“When we go in the out of doors, we respect nature, and anything that we bring in comes back with us. And I always try and take an extra garbage bag or two with me and pick up after others. we're just asking people to, you know, if they see a violation occurring, let us know," Hadley said.

Visitors can report violations to local law enforcement or can call the Utah Division of Wildlife at 1-800-662-337.

Katie is originally from Colorado and earned her BA in International Affairs from CU Boulder. She moved to Washington, DC to obtain her MA in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University. While living in DC she worked for USAID, the Department of State, and Congress where she specialized in environmental policy. She relocated to Utah to be closer to the mountains and her family. She is a lover of our Public Lands and has camped, hiked and biked through over half of the U.S. National Parks. She is committed to bringing stories about important Utah policies to UPR listeners.