Idaho hunter Denny Austad has pledged $305,000 for a buck mule deer tag on Utah’s Antelope Island, of which 90 percent goes back into conservation projects for the island. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Austad is no stranger to conservation auctions. The hunter previously set the world record for a deer tag at $310,000 last year.
This year, Austad will be paying $865,000 for three separate deer hunts after winning bids at the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City. One of them will take place on Utah’s famed Antelope Island, which is known for its large population of mule deer. Earlier this month, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) announced it will be removing approximately 100 mule deer because of overpopulation.
“There’s only enough forage for so many animals and so many mouths,” DWR Game Project Manager Kent Hersey told the Deseret News. “So what the deer will do, they don’t know any better, so they just eat, eat, eat and you’ll actually see damage being done to the vegetation where it won’t grow back as strong and plentiful as we’d like to see it.”
The deer will be transported to Elk Ridge Mountain and Oak Creek Mountains in what wildlife officials are calling a large-scale move. The transplant is necessary because Hersey said he is already seeing signs of habitat damage.
“What we’re trying to do is remove the animals off this range before there’s too much damage where it can’t really recover on its own,” he said.
Antelope Island is the largest of the 10 islands in Great Salt Lake and boasts a significant population of pronghorn, bighorn, bison, and waterfowl. Austad’s previous auction record-setting hunt also took place on the island.