ANTELOPE ISLAND — For a second consecutive year, there will be limited hunting for trophy mule deer and bighorn sheep on Antelope Island.
The Utah State Parks and Recreation Board, by a 5-2 vote on Wednesday, approved authorizing a one-year extension of the mule deer and bighorn sheep hunts on the island, said Deena Loyola, Utah State Parks and Recreation communication coordinator.
The hunts will take place Nov. 12-21, 2012, Loyola said.
The board took the action after a 30-minute discussion at a board meeting.
“Two board members voted against the issue, both of whom are new members, Kim Schappert and Tom Guinney,” Loyola said.
Two members of the nine-member board were absent and did not vote.
With the vote, board members passed a motion to write a letter to the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee asking for this issue to be resolved by the full Legislature rather than through legislative intent language annually, Loyola said.
Despite stiff public opposition, the hunting of the animals, a limit of two each, was introduced for this year by the board.
Two of the hunting permits, one for each animal, are to be issued through a draw, and two are to be issued through a competitive bid auction.
Last year, the competitive bid auction for the two permits generated $283,000 for state parks, of which a large portion went back to the state park island to improve habitat, Loyola said.
The resident draw permits for a bighorn sheep and a mule deer in 2011 went for $508 and $163, respectively, last year.
The money from those permits goes to the Division of Wildlife Resources, Loyola said.
The action by the board was necessary because the hunts for those animals were initially approved on a one-year basis through November 2011. Another vote was needed to extend the hunts into fall 2012, Loyola said.
Both Friends of Antelope Island and the Davis Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, which markets the island as a tourist destination, have opposed the hunts.
Davis CVB President and CEO Barbara Riddle said she would rather see the public shoot the island wildlife with their cameras, not their guns.
Davis County Commissioner Louenda Downs said she is not surprised by the board vote but is concerned the direction of the hunt, albeit not a “challenging hunt,” may expand in coming years.
The county is trying to draw tourists to the island, with seeing the wildlife being a large part of that, Downs said.
“The hunting component is not conducive to that type of a vision,” she said.
Because the county has invested a great deal of resources into promoting the state-owned island, Downs said, the county deserves to have a seat at the table when the issue of island hunting is being discussed.
“We have not been part of that discussion, not in a formal sense,” she said. “We want to be part of future conversations.”