Under these Utah statutes, all wildlife is the property of the state unless held in private ownership, but it is illegal to hold protected wildlife in captivity, with exceptions, such as for furbearers. Other provisions deal with invasive species, forbid remote-controlled hunting, establish the Utah State Hunting and Fishing Day, and provide penalties for violations.
§ 23-13-1 . Title
§ 23-13-2 . Definitions
§ 23-13-3 . Wildlife declared property of the state
§ 23-13-4 . Captivity of protected wildlife unlawful
§ 23-13-5 . Importation or exportation and release of wildlife unlawful
§ 23-13-6 . Taking of wildlife by division
§ 23-13-7 . Use of fireworks and explosives by division employees and certain federal game agents
§ 23-13-8 . Private wildlife farms
§§ 23-13-9, 23-13-10 . Repealed by Laws 1986, c. 76, § 18
§ 23-13-11 . Violations
§ 23-13-12 . Repealed by Laws 2000, c. 164, § 2, eff. May 1, 2000
§ 23-13-12.5 . Agreement with a tribe
§ 23-13-13 . Commercialization of wildlife unlawful
§ 23-13-14 . Release of wildlife unlawful--Penalty
§ 23-13-15 . Hunting and Fishing Day
§ 23-13-16 . Judicial notice of proclamations
§ 23-13-17 . Spotlighting of coyote, red fox, striped skunk, and raccoon--County ordinances--Permits
§ 23-13-18 . Use of a computer or other device to remotely hunt wildlife prohibited
§ 23-13-19 . Administering substances to protected wildlife prohibited--Exceptions
This title is known as the “Wildlife Resources Code of Utah.”
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 1; Laws 2007, c. 306, § 15, eff. April 30, 2007.
As used in this title:
(1) “Activity regulated under this title” means any act, attempted act, or activity prohibited or regulated under any provision of Title 23, Wildlife Resources Code of Utah, or the rules, and proclamations promulgated thereunder pertaining to protected wildlife including:
(e) permitting any dog, falcon, or other domesticated animal to take;
(n) utilizing as a commercial venture; and
(o) releasing to the wild.
(2) “Aquaculture facility” means the same as that term is defined in Section 4-37-103.
(3) “Aquatic animal” means the same as that term is defined in Section 4-37-103.
(4) “Aquatic wildlife” means species of fish, mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects, or amphibians.
(5) “Bag limit” means the maximum limit, in number or amount, of protected wildlife that one person may legally take during one day.
(6) “Big game” means species of hoofed protected wildlife.
(7) “Carcass” means the dead body of an animal or its parts.
(8) “Certificate of registration” means a document issued under this title, or any rule or proclamation of the Wildlife Board granting authority to engage in activities not covered by a license, permit, or tag.
(9) “Closed season” means the period of time during which the taking of protected wildlife is prohibited.
(10) “Conservation officer” means a full-time, permanent employee of the Division of Wildlife Resources who is POST certified as a peace or a special function officer.
(11) “Dedicated hunter program” means a program that provides:
(a) expanded hunting opportunities;
(b) opportunities to participate in projects that are beneficial to wildlife; and
(c) education in hunter ethics and wildlife management principles.
(12) “Division” means the Division of Wildlife Resources.
(13)(a) “Domicile” means the place:
(i) where an individual has a fixed permanent home and principal establishment;
(ii) to which the individual if absent, intends to return; and
(iii) in which the individual, and the individual's family voluntarily reside, not for a special or temporary purpose, but with the intention of making a permanent home.
(b) To create a new domicile an individual shall:
(i) abandon the old domicile; and
(ii) be able to prove that a new domicile has been established.
(14) “Endangered” means wildlife designated as endangered according to Section 3 of the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.1
(15) “Fee fishing facility” means the same as that term is defined in Section 4-37-103.
(16) “Feral” means an animal that is normally domesticated but has reverted to the wild.
(17) “Fishing” means to take fish or crayfish by any means.
(18) “Furbearer” means species of the Bassariscidae, Canidae, Felidae, Mustelidae, and Castoridae families, except coyote and cougar.
(19) “Game” means wildlife normally pursued, caught, or taken by sporting means for human use.
(20) “Guide” means a person who receives compensation or advertises services for assisting another person to take protected wildlife, including the provision of food, shelter, or transportation, or any combination of these.
(21) “Guide's agent” means a person who is employed by a guide to assist another person to take protected wildlife.
(22) “Hunting” means to take or pursue a reptile, amphibian, bird, or mammal by any means.
(23) “Intimidate or harass” means to physically interfere with or impede, hinder, or diminish the efforts of an officer in the performance of the officer's duty.
(24)(a) “Natural flowing stream” means a topographic low where water collects and perennially or intermittently flows with a perceptible current in a channel formed exclusively by forces of nature.
(b) “Natural flowing stream” includes perennial or intermittent water flows in a:
(i) realigned or modified channel that replaces the historic, natural flowing stream channel; and
(ii) dredged natural flowing stream channel.
(c) “Natural flowing stream” does not include a human-made ditch, canal, pipeline, or other water delivery system that diverts and conveys water to an approved place of use pursuant to a certificated water right.
(25)(a) “Natural lake” means a perennial or intermittent body of water that collects on the surface of the earth exclusively through the forces of nature and without human assistance.
(b) “Natural lake” does not mean a lake where all surface water sources supplying the body of water originate from groundwater springs no more than 100 yards upstream.
(26) “Nonresident” means a person who does not qualify as a resident.
(27) “Open season” means the period of time during which protected wildlife may be legally taken.
(28) “Pecuniary gain” means the acquisition of money or something of monetary value.
(29) “Permit” means a document, including a stamp, that grants authority to engage in specified activities under this title or a rule or proclamation of the Wildlife Board.
(30) “Person” means an individual, association, partnership, government agency, corporation, or an agent of the foregoing.
(31) “Possession” means actual or constructive possession.
(32) “Possession limit” means the number of bag limits one individual may legally possess.
(33)(a) “Private fish pond” means a pond, reservoir, or other body of water, including a fish culture system, located on privately owned land where privately owned fish:
(i) are propagated or kept for a private noncommercial purpose; and
(ii) may be taken without a fishing license.
(b) “Private fish pond” does not include an aquaculture facility, fee fishing facility, short-term fishing event, or private stocking.
(34)(a) “Private stocking” means an authorized release of privately owned, live fish in the waters of the state not eligible as a private fish pond under Section 23-15-10 or aquaculture facility or fee fishing facility under Title 4, Chapter 37, Aquaculture Act.
(b) Fish released under private stocking become the property of the state and subject to the fishing regulations set forth in this title and the rules and proclamations of the Wildlife Board.
(35) “Private wildlife farm” means an enclosed place where privately owned birds or furbearers are propagated or kept and that restricts the birds or furbearers from:
(a) commingling with wild birds or furbearers; and
(b) escaping into the wild.
(36) “Proclamation” means the publication used to convey a statute, rule, policy, or pertinent information as it relates to wildlife.
(37)(a) “Protected aquatic wildlife” means aquatic wildlife as defined in Subsection (3), except as provided in Subsection (37)(b).
(b) “Protected aquatic wildlife” does not include aquatic insects.
(38)(a) “Protected wildlife” means wildlife as defined in Subsection (54), except as provided in Subsection (38)(b).
(b) “Protected wildlife” does not include coyote, field mouse, gopher, ground squirrel, jack rabbit, muskrat, and raccoon.
(39) “Released to the wild” means to be turned loose from confinement.
(40)(a) “Reservoir constructed on a natural stream channel” means a body of water collected and stored on the course of a natural flowing stream by impounding the stream through excavation or diking.
(b) “Reservoir constructed on a natural stream channel” does not mean an impoundment on a natural flowing stream where all surface water sources supplying the impoundment originate from groundwater springs no more than 100 yards upstream.
(41)(a) “Resident” means a person who:
(i) has been domiciled in the state for six consecutive months immediately preceding the purchase of a license; and
(ii) does not claim residency for hunting, fishing, or trapping in any other state or country.
(b) A Utah resident retains Utah residency if that person leaves this state:
(i) to serve in the armed forces of the United States or for religious or educational purposes; and
(ii) the person complies with Subsection (41)(a)(ii).
(c)(i) A member of the armed forces of the United States and dependents are residents for the purposes of this chapter as of the date the member reports for duty under assigned orders in the state if the member:
(A) is not on temporary duty in this state; and
(B) complies with Subsection (41)(a)(ii).
(ii) A copy of the assignment orders shall be presented to a wildlife division office to verify the member's qualification as a resident.
(d) A nonresident attending an institution of higher learning in this state as a full-time student may qualify as a resident for purposes of this chapter if the student:
(i) has been present in this state for 60 consecutive days immediately preceding the purchase of the license; and
(ii) complies with Subsection (41)(a)(ii).
(e) A Utah resident license is invalid if a resident license for hunting, fishing, or trapping is purchased in any other state or country.
(f) An absentee landowner paying property tax on land in Utah does not qualify as a resident.
(42) “Sell” means to offer or possess for sale, barter, exchange, or trade, or the act of selling, bartering, exchanging, or trading.
(43)(a) “Short-term fishing event” means any event where privately acquired fish are held or confined for a period not to exceed 10 days for the purpose of providing fishing or recreational opportunity and where no fee is charged as a requirement to fish.
(b) A fishing license is not required to take fish at a short-term fishing event.
(44) “Small game” means species of protected wildlife:
(a) commonly pursued for sporting purposes; and
(b) not classified as big game, aquatic wildlife, or furbearers and excluding turkey, cougar, and bear.
(45) “Spoiled” means impairment of the flesh of wildlife which renders it unfit for human consumption.
(46) “Spotlighting” means throwing or casting the rays of any spotlight, headlight, or other artificial light on any highway or in any field, woodland, or forest while having in possession a weapon by which protected wildlife may be killed.
(47) “Tag” means a card, label, or other identification device issued for attachment to the carcass of protected wildlife.
(48) “Take” means to:
(a) hunt, pursue, harass, catch, capture, possess, angle, seine, trap, or kill any protected wildlife; or
(b) attempt any action referred to in Subsection (48)(a).
(49) “Threatened” means wildlife designated as such pursuant to Section 3 of the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.
(50) “Trapping” means taking protected wildlife with a trapping device.
(51) “Trophy animal” means an animal described as follows:
(a) deer--a buck with an outside antler measurement of 24 inches or greater;
(b) elk--a bull with six points on at least one side;
(c) bighorn, desert, or rocky mountain sheep--a ram with a curl exceeding half curl;
(d) moose--a bull with at least one antler exceeding five inches in length;
(e) mountain goat--a male or female;
(f) pronghorn antelope--a buck with horns exceeding 14 inches; or
(g) bison--a bull.
(52) “Waste” means to abandon protected wildlife or to allow protected wildlife to spoil or to be used in a manner not normally associated with its beneficial use.
(53) “Water pollution” means the introduction of matter or thermal energy to waters within this state that:
(a) exceeds state water quality standards; or
(b) could be harmful to protected wildlife.
(54) “Wildlife” means:
(a) crustaceans, including brine shrimp and crayfish;
(b) mollusks; and
(c) vertebrate animals living in nature, except feral animals.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 2; Laws 1973, c. 33, § 1; Laws 1975, c. 60, § 1; Laws 1977, c. 102, § 1; Laws 1979, c. 90, § 1; Laws 1981, c. 112, § 1; Laws 1981, c. 115, § 1; Laws 1983, c. 123, § 1; Laws 1986, c. 76, § 1; Laws 1991, c. 5, § 31; Laws 1991, c. 212, § 1; Laws 1992, c. 27, § 1; Laws 1993, c. 234, § 15; Laws 1993, c. 307, § 1; Laws 1994, c. 153, § 29; Laws 1994, c. 208, § 1; Laws 1995, c. 211, § 1, eff. May 1, 1995; Laws 1996, c. 265, § 1, eff. April 29, 1996; Laws 1999, c. 209, § 1, eff. July 1, 1999; Laws 2000, c. 44, § 1, eff. May 1, 2000; Laws 2000, c. 195, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; Laws 2001, c. 9, § 49, eff. April 30, 2001; Laws 2004, c. 66, § 1, eff. May 3, 2004; Laws 2007, c. 136, § 1, eff. April 30, 2007; Laws 2008, c. 69, § 4, eff. May 5, 2008; Laws 2010, c. 256, § 1, eff. May 11, 2010; Laws 2011, c. 297, § 104, eff. May 10, 2011; Laws 2017, c. 412, § 11, eff. May 9, 2017.
[FN1] 16 U.S.C.A. § 1531 et seq.
All wildlife existing within this state, not held by private ownership and legally acquired, is the property of the state.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 3; Laws 1992, c. 27, § 2.
It is unlawful for any person to hold in captivity at any time any protected wildlife except as provided by this code or rules and regulations of the Wildlife Board.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 4.
It is unlawful for any person to import into or export from the state of Utah any species of live native or exotic wildlife or to possess or release from captivity any such imported live wildlife except as provided in this code or the rules and regulations of the Wildlife Board without first securing written permission from the division of Wildlife Resources.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 5; Laws 1973, c. 33, § 2.
The Division of Wildlife resources may take wildlife of any kind from any place and in any manner for purposes deemed by the director to be in the interest of wildlife conservation.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 6; Laws 1995, c. 56, § 1, eff. May 1, 1995.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, employees of the Division of Wildlife Resources and federal game agents charged with the duty of managing wildlife resources may, without obtaining a permit, use fireworks and explosives to rally, drive, or otherwise disperse concentrations of wildlife as may be necessary to protect property or wildlife resources.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 7; Laws 1986, c. 76, § 2.
(1) Any person may establish and maintain private wildlife farms for propagating, rearing, and keeping furbearers or birds classified as protected wildlife and may sell or dispose of wildlife reared upon such farms except that disposal may not include release to the wild without first securing written permission from the Wildlife Board. Before establishing such farm, a person shall obtain written authorization from the Division of Wildlife Resources in accordance with rules established by the Wildlife Board. Any wildlife which escapes from private wildlife farms becomes the property of the state.
(2) This section does not apply to private fur farms established and maintained for rearing domesticated, privately owned mink or chinchilla which were not acquired as wild animals from any state or country, nor does it provide for the propagating, rearing, and keeping of any protected wildlife other than those specified in this section.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 8; Laws 1973, c. 33, § 3; Laws 1979, c. 90, § 2; Laws 1986, c. 76, § 3.
Except as otherwise provided in this title:
(1) a violation of any provision of this title is a class B misdemeanor ; and
(2) a violation of any rule or proclamation of the Wildlife Board is an infraction.
Laws 1971, c. 46, § 11; Laws 1975, c. 60, § 2; Laws 1991, c. 212, § 2; Laws 1993, c. 178, § 1; Laws 1995, c. 211, § 2, eff. May 1, 1995; Laws 2009, c. 347, § 1, eff. May 12, 2009.
(1) As used in this section, “tribe” means a federally recognized:
(a) Indian tribe; or
(b) Indian band.
(2)(a) Subject to the requirements of this section, the governor may enter into an agreement with a tribe to settle a dispute between the state and the tribe concerning a hunting, fishing, or trapping right claim that is:
(i) based on:
(A) a treaty;
(B) an aboriginal right; or
(C) other recognized federal right; and
(ii) on lands located within the state.
(b) Except as provided in Subsection (2)(c), an agreement permitted under Subsection (2)(a) may not exempt any person from the requirements of this title.
(c) An agreement permitted under Subsection (2)(a) may exempt or partially exempt a tribe that is a party to the agreement or a member of that tribe from:
(i) Section 23-16-5, placing a limit of one of any species of big game during a license year;
(ii) Section 23-16-6, commencement date of the general deer season;
(iii) a hunter or furharvester education requirement under Chapter 19, Licenses, Permits, and Tags;
(iv) an age restriction under Chapter 19, Licenses, Permits, and Tags;
(v) paying a fee required under this title to obtain a hunting, fishing, or trapping license or permit;
(vi) obtaining a license or permit required under this title to hunt, trap, or fish; or
(vii) complying with a rule or proclamation of the Wildlife Board if the exemption is not inconsistent with this title.
(d) An agreement permitted under Subsection (2)(a) shall:
(i) be in writing;
(ii) be signed by:
(A) the governor; and
(B) the governing body of the tribe that:
(I) is designated by the tribe; and
(II) may bind the tribe to the terms of the agreement;
(iii) be conditioned on obtaining any approval required by federal law;
(iv) state the effective date of the agreement;
(v) provide that the governor shall renegotiate the agreement if the agreement is or becomes inconsistent with a state statute for which an exemption is not authorized under this section; and
(vi) include any accommodation made by the tribe that:
(A) is agreed to by the tribe;
(B) is reasonably related to the agreement; and
(C) concerns the management and use of wildlife resources or habitat.
(e) Prior to executing an agreement under this Subsection (2), the governor shall consult with:
(i) the division; and
(ii) the chair of the Wildlife Board created in Section 23-14-2.
(f) At least 30 days before the agreement under this Subsection (2) is executed, the governor or the governor's designee shall provide a copy of the agreement in the form that the agreement will be executed to:
(i) the chairs of the Native American Legislative Liaison Committee; and
(ii) the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel.
Laws 2000, c. 164, § 1, eff. May 1, 2000; Laws 2002, c. 70, § 1, eff. May 6, 2002.
It shall be unlawful for any person to utilize wildlife as a commercial venture for financial gain except as provided in this code or under rules and regulations of the Wildlife Board.
Laws 1973, c. 33, § 16; Laws 1975, c. 60, § 3.
(1)(a) A person may not release or transplant a live terrestrial or aquatic wildlife into the wild:
(i) without a certificate of registration issued by the division authorizing the release; or
(ii) except as provided in this title and rules and regulations established by the Wildlife Board in accordance with Title 63G, Chapter 3, Utah Administrative Rulemaking Act.
(b) The division may only authorize the transplanting of big game, turkeys, wolves, threatened or endangered species, or sensitive species as provided in Section 23-14-21.
(2) Except as provided in Subsection (3), a person who violates Subsection (1) is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
(3) A person who knowingly and without lawful authority imports, transports, or releases a live species of wildlife that the person knows is listed as threatened or endangered, or is a candidate to be listed under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et seq., with the intent to establish the presence of that species in an area of the state not currently known to be occupied by a reproducing population of that species is guilty of a third degree felony.
Laws 1973, c. 33, § 17; Laws 1986, c. 76, § 4; Laws 2015, c. 231, § 1, eff. May 12, 2015; Laws 2017, c. 129, § 1, eff. May 9, 2017.
In recognition of the substantial and continued contribution by hunters and fishermen toward the sound management of wildlife in Utah, the fourth Saturday of September of each year is hereby established as Utah State Hunting and Fishing Day.
Laws 1973, c. 33, § 18.
The courts shall take judicial notice of any proclamation published under the authority of this title.
Laws 1992, c. 261, § 1.
(1) Spotlighting may be used to hunt coyote, red fox, striped skunk, or raccoon where allowed by a county ordinance enacted pursuant to this section.
(2) The ordinance shall provide that:
(a) any artificial light used to spotlight coyote, red fox, striped skunk, or raccoon shall be carried by the hunter;
(b) a motor vehicle headlight or light attached to or powered by a motor vehicle may not be used to spotlight the animal; and
(c) while hunting with the use of an artificial light, the hunter may not occupy or operate any motor vehicle.
(3) For purposes of the county ordinance, “motor vehicle” shall have the meaning as defined in Section 41-6a-102.
(4) The ordinance may specify:
(a) the time of day and seasons when spotlighting is permitted;
(b) areas closed or open to spotlighting within the unincorporated area of the county;
(c) safety zones within which spotlighting is prohibited;
(d) the weapons permitted; and
(e) penalties for violation of the ordinance.
(5)(a) A county may restrict the number of hunters engaging in spotlighting by requiring a permit to spotlight and issuing a limited number of permits.
(b)(i) A fee may be charged for a spotlighting permit.
(ii) Any permit fee shall be established by the county ordinance.
(iii) Revenues generated by the permit fee shall be remitted to the Division of Wildlife Resources for deposit into the Wildlife Resources Account, except the Wildlife Board may allow any county that enacts an ordinance pursuant to this section to retain a reasonable amount to pay for the costs of administering and enforcing the ordinance, provided this use of the permit revenues does not affect federal funds received by the state under 16 U.S.C. Sec. 669 et seq., Wildlife Restoration Act and 16 U.S.C. Sec. 777 et seq., Sport Fish Restoration Act.
(6) A county may require hunters to notify the county sheriff of the time and place they will be engaged in spotlighting.
(7) The requirement that a county ordinance shall be enacted before a person may use spotlighting to hunt coyote, red fox, striped skunk, or raccoon does not apply to:
(a) a person or the person's agent who is lawfully acting to protect the person's crops or domestic animals from predation by those animals; or
(b) an animal damage control agent acting in the agent's official capacity under a memorandum of agreement with the division.
Laws 1993, c. 307, § 2; Laws 2005, c. 2, § 7, eff. Feb. 2, 2005; Laws 2011, c. 297, § 105, eff. May 10, 2011.
(1) A person may not use a computer or other device to remotely control the aiming and discharge of a firearm or other weapon for hunting an animal.
(2) A person who violates Subsection (1) is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
Laws 2008, c. 34, § 1, eff. May 5, 2008.
(1) For purposes of this section:
(a) “Administer” means the application of a substance by any method, including:
(iii) ingestion; or
(b) “Agricultural producer” means a person who produces an agricultural product.
(c) “Agricultural product” means the same as that term is defined in Section 4-1-109.
(d) “Substance” means a chemical or organic substance that:
(vi) controls fertility; or
(vii) has an effect that is similar to an effect listed in Subsections (1)(d)(i) through (vi).
(2) Except as authorized by Subsection (3) or a rule made by the Wildlife Board, a person may not administer or attempt to administer a substance to protected wildlife.
(3)(a) A division employee or a person with written permission from the division may administer a substance to protected wildlife if that employee or person administers the substance to promote wildlife management and conservation.
(b) One or more of the following may administer a substance to protected wildlife that the person is authorized by this title, the Wildlife Board, or the division to possess:
(i) a licensed veterinarian;
(ii) an unlicensed assistive personnel, as defined in Section 58-28-102; or
(iii) a person who is following written instructions for veterinary care from a licensed veterinarian.
(4) A person is not liable under this section for administering a substance, notwithstanding the substance has an effect described in Subsection (1)(d) on protected wildlife, if:
(a) an agricultural producer administers the substance:
(i) for the sole purpose of producing an agricultural product and not for the purpose of affecting protected wildlife in a manner described in Subsection (1)(d);
(ii) consistent with generally accepted agricultural practices; and
(iii) in compliance with applicable local, state, and federal law; or
(b) the protected wildlife presents an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to a person.
Laws 2009, c. 308, § 1, eff. May 12, 2009; Laws 2017, c. 345, § 403, eff. July 1, 2017.