State Summary: UTAH

Sources: Utah Code Annotated, 1984, Title 23; 1992 Cumulative Supplement.


All wildlife existing within this state, not held by private ownership and legally acquired, is the property of the state (23-13-3). All wildlife within this state, including but not limited to wildlife on public or private land or in public or private waters, shall fall within the jurisdiction of the Division of Wildlife Resources (23-15-2).



It is unlawful:  to hold in captivity protected wildlife except as provided by code or regulations of the Board;  for persons to take, or to permit their dog to take, protected wildlife, except as provided by code or regulations of the Board or BBGC (23-13-3 and -4);  to take protected aquatic wildlife or eggs of same in state waters except as provided by code or Board regulation;  to seine for protected aquatic wildlife in state waters or to sell or transport protected wildlife except as prescribed by the Board; to pollute waters deemed necessary by the Board for wildlife purposes or waters containing protected aquatic wildlife and stoneflies, mayflies, dragonflies and damsel flies, water bugs, caddis flies, spongilla flies and crustaceans, each day of pollution constituting a separate offense (23-15-6 through -8).

The Legislature recognizes that the number of breeding sites of the American White Pelican has been reduced as a result of the removal of water barriers around breeding sites, loss of food supply and human disturbance of nesting colonies. The Legislature further recognizes that Gunnison Island in the Great Salt Lake, one of the seven remaining pelican rookeries in North America, produces over 20% of the world's population of the American White Pelican and is the only remaining major pelican rookery that does not have refuge status. It is declared to be the policy of the state that areas that will support certain threatened life forms shall be preserved for their benefit and for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations of people. The state shall initiate condemnation and purchase of the 163-acre Gunnison Island and 22-acre Hat (Bird) Island in the Great Salt Lake to be designated as wildlife management areas under the jurisdiction of the Division to be administered for the protection and perpetuation of the American White Pelican (23-21a-2 and -3).


See Pelican Management Act under PROTECTED SPECIES OF WILDLIFE.

Except in anticipation of and to provide for safe disposal of natural storm and flood waters, no person may without existing rights divert so much water from a natural stream, lake, pond or natural lake or pond which has increased storage due to construction of a dam that the diversion unduly endangers protected aquatic wildlife (23-15-3) It is unlawful to take water from the state streams, lakes or reservoirs for power purposes or for waterworks without furnishing and maintaining suitable screens to prevent fish from entering such power plants, millraces or waterworks. Such screens are to be built and maintained under the direction of the Board, and failure to comply after 30 days notice in writing from the Board is a misdemeanor (23-15-4). A person desiring to drain an irrigation canal, ditch, reservoir or other waterway containing protected aquatic wildlife, or who intends to divert waters so as to endanger the protected aquatic wildlife therein, shall give five days written notice to the Division prior to the diversion, or reasonable notice in case of emergency (25-15-5).

The Division shall have the power to acquire lands, waters and rights-of-way by purchase, lease, agreement, gift, exchange or other lawful means for authorized activities (23-21-1). The Division may not acquire title to real property held in private ownership without the Governor's approval. The Governor shall submit notification of the proposed acquisition to the county commission of the county in which the property is located and invite comments, after consideration of which the Governor may approve the acquisition in whole or in part, or disapprove the acquisition (23-21-1.5). The Division will reimburse each county for the amount of property taxes, or for the amount of fine moneys, the county would have received on the land. The amount of this reimbursement will not exceed what the regularly assessed real property taxes would be if the land had remained in private ownership (23-21-2).

There is reserved to the public the right of access to all lands owned by the state, including those lands lying below the official government meander line or high water line of navigable rivers for the purpose of hunting, trapping and fishing (23-21-4). The Board is authorized to use unsurveyed state-owned lands below the 1855 meander line of the Great Salt Lake for the creation, operation, maintenance and management of wildlife management areas, fishing waters and other recreational activities (23-21-5). Consent is given for the acquisition by the US for land or water areas in the state for refuges for migratory birds with certain reservations and conditions (23-21-6).

Posted Hunting Units are established to:  provide income to landowners;  create satisfying hunting opportunities;  increase wildlife resources;  protect landowners who open their lands for hunting. The Board is authorized to make and enforce rules for posted hunting units (23-23- 3). Posted Hunting Units are to be operated by landowner associations (associations) (23-23-4). The Board may grant variances from general statewide permit fees and season lengths for posted hunting units (23-23-6). Associations must obtain a certificate of registration from the Board before operating a posted hunting unit (23-23-5). The Division shall provide permits for the unit free of charge. At least 50% of the permits shall be offered to the general public, and at least 75% of the acreage within the boundaries of each Posted Hunting Unit shall be open to hunting by holders of permits. The associations shall clearly post the boundaries of the Posted Hunting Unit (23-23-7). Landowners who incur damages caused by a hunter on their land within the unit may submit claims and receive compensation from permit fee funds collected by the associations (23-23-8). The associations may appoint agents to protect private property on the unit, and such agents may refuse entry to persons without permit or who have damaged property within the area (23-23-9). Hunters must have a Posted Hunting Unit permit and the necessary hunting licenses, permits, tags and stamps, and may hunt only on the unit specified on their permit (23- 23-10). Violation: class B misdemeanor (23-23-13).

The Division shall prepare a management plan for each deer and elk herd unit in the state, and submit the plans to the BBGC for approval. The herd unit shall be managed in accordance with the approved plan. In preparing a plan, the Division shall confer with federal and state land managers, private landowners, sportsmen and ranchers. Each plan shall establish target herd size objectives, considering available information on each unit's range carrying capacity and ownership, and seek to balance relevant multiple uses for the range. Until a management plan for a herd unit is prepared and approved, the herd unit shall be manageed to maintain the herd size as range conditions and available data dictate. Management plans shall be prepared and approved by May 1994 for elk; May 1996 for deer. An annual progress report on the plans shall be made to the Energy, Natural Resources and Agriculture Interim Committee until plans are completed. The management plans may be revised as the Division or BBGC determine necessary, following these provisions (23-16-7).

See also Agency Funding Sources under STATE WILDLIFE AGENCIES.

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New Mexico Center for Wildlife Law
University of New Mexico School of Law
1117 Stanford NE, Albuquerque, NM 87131
(505) 277-5006