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State & Regional

New laws allow wild game meat donations, air rifle hunting regulations, and more in Utah

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Utah DWR
Utah DWR generic hunting

Several bills that impact wildlife and outdoor recreation passed in the 2022 State Legislature’s general session.

Utah hunters can now donate their harvested wild game meat to food banks and other non-profit organizations. To donate the meat, it must be harvested by a legally licensed hunter. The new law does not allow the meat to be sold. The amendment requires the animal to be field-dressed immediately after it is killed and processed soon after the harvest. Roadkill is not legal to donate.

Utah Division of Wildlife Legislative Liaison Riley Peck said outside of Utah, it’s common practice to allow hunters to donate harvested meat to charities.

“And so, this is more Utah starting to come in line a little more with what is common practice elsewhere and, and there were also some hunters saying this would be helpful. This is a way for us to put the protein in the hands that would really like it or at times really benefit from it.”

The Legislature also approved amendments allowing the use of an air rifle for hunting. Peck said the changes keep up with rifle technology.

“So, this bill does direct our wildlife board to make some recommendations on where and when and for what hunts and species these get used for. It's not legal everywhere, and I think it just has to do with tradition and the fact that previously to now, they were maybe not as effective. You know, many years ago, it was your common BB gun was not as effective at euthanizing something, and they have made great leaps in their advancement in their technology, and now they have the ability to be very precise.”

Across the region, there are conflicts between wildlife and farming operations. Peck said there have always been tools for landowners to protect their property and guard against property damage from wild animals. He said the significant change with this bill has to do with hiring and paying for outfitters or guides to help hunt wild animals.

“And not a lot of it changed. They were very subtle. And if you were not involved with the process, one might not know. The bill then goes on to set limitations on the compensation that can be given to hunting guides and outfitters and this was not previously in any code or statute. It was kind of open, and so this law specifies that a hunter cannot use more than one outfitter or hunting guide in an effort to harvest the game.”

House Bill 142 Donation of Wild Game Meat, Senate Bill 205 Air Rifle Hunting Amendments, and the HB 62 Big Game Amendments can be found on le.utah.gov.