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Utah sees big increases in hunting and fishing license sales

Brown trout caught in Utah's Uintah Basin. Many more hunting and fishing licenses were sold in Utah this year. (Photo: DWR)

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports large increases in hunting and fishing license sales over the past year, attributing it to people looking for outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A news release from the division reports it sold 417,833 fishing licenses from March 2020 through February 2021. That’s an increase of more than 100,000 from the year before. There were similar increases in hunting licenses (68,265 compared to 50,551 the year before) and in combination licenses (222,124, up from 183,358) over the same time period.

“This is by far the most licenses that we’ve sold in one year,” said Faith Heaton Jolley, division spokesperson. “Usually, we have about a 2% increase in license sales year-over year. Last year, it was a 28% increase.”

Heaton Jolley said many of the people buying a hunting or fishing license last year didn’t have one before.

“We had a huge increase as well for first-time customers,” she told KSL NewsRadio. “A lot of new people are getting out and enjoying hunting and fishing for the first time.”

For those new hunters and anglers, there’s a challenge learning the rules that apply to different areas of the state and all the species of fish and wildlife.

“They definitely need to read our guidebooks,” Heaton Jolley said. “That kind of outlines where you can legally, what you can do legally in different areas. So that’s definitely recommended, especially if you’re a first-timer.”

At the same time, she said Utah actually saw a reduction in wildlife violations over the past year.