Sweeping changes in Utah’s deer hunting regulations are drawing criticism from some hunters.

From this story in the Salt Lake Tribune:
_The moment, critics say, represents everything that’s wrong with the way Utah sets its wildlife management policy.

Byron Bateman, president of the powerful lobbying group Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, had just finished speaking before the Utah Wildlife Board as it pondered the state’s most dramatic changes to its deer-hunting laws in two decades. Bateman then walked up to Jim Karpowitz, director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and handed him a check for $391,000.

Later that day, the board passed the sweeping overhaul, regulations that were largely crafted and promoted by Bateman’s SFW. The changes, which go into effect in 2012, will reduce the number of deer-hunting permits by at least 13,000 annually and dramatically increase the cost of a general-season hunting tag in Utah.
_Critics charge that opportunity for the average hunter is being lost at the expense of the well-heeled, who are more interested in trophy animals and believe these new laws are the best way to produce more. And everyone, beginning with the DWR’s top big-game biologist, agrees the changes do nothing to address the plight of the state’s dwindling deer herds.

The money Bateman paid Karpowitz was the state’s share of money that SFW collected auctioning conservation hunting tags, and groups commonly do present checks at Wildlife Board meetings. Nevertheless, for many hunters watching the handover, it was validation that special-interest groups have the Wildlife Board’s undivided attention and not always for the right reasons._

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