Salt Lake City — You can lock in the deer hunting unit you want to hunt in Utah for the next three years by joining the state’s Dedicated Hunter program.

On June 9, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved some changes to the program. The changes are needed because, in 2012, hunters will no longer hunt in five large regions in Utah. Instead, they’ll hunt in 30 smaller units.

Rhianna Christopher, volunteer program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the DWR worked hard to keep the Dedicated Hunter program that hunters join in 2012 as close as possible to the way the program is now.

“This is a valuable program,” she says. “We want the program to work for hunters.”

The following are the major changes the board approved for the program starting in 2012:

• After lifetime license holders choose the unit they want to hunt, 15 percent of the remaining general-season deer hunting permits in each unit will be set aside for Dedicated Hunters.

• To join the Dedicated Hunter program in 2012, you must do two things: Apply to join the program, and draw a permit for the unit you’d like to hunt.

• After you apply for the program, if you draw a permit for the unit you’d like to hunt, your permit will be issued to you after you complete the Dedicated Hunter program requirements each year you’re in the program.

Christopher says the unit you obtain a permit for is the unit you’ll hunt during the three years you’re in the program. “You will not be allowed to change or exchange your permit for a different unit,” she says, “so you need to make sure the unit you apply for is the unit you want to hunt for the next three years.”

The board also approved two additional changes to the program:

• The number of service hours you need to complete during the three years you’re in the program has been reduced to 32 hours.

• The Dedicated Hunter limited-entry permit draw has been eliminated.

More information about the changes will be available in a chart Christopher has compiled. The chart should be available at http://go.usa.gov/TSL by June 13.

Helping Utah’s wildlife

In return for some extra chances to hunt deer, dedicated hunters in Utah have given the state’s wildlife more than $6 million in volunteer hours and service in the past four years alone.

More information about the current Dedicated Hunter program is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dh.

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