The reputation of Utah wildlife hasn’t had the historical national cache that some of the surrounding states have had. Don’t let that fool you. Reputation often doesn’t align with reality.
For example, in recent years, the state of Utah has become world-famous for its trophy elk hunting and mule deer hunting . And even greater opportunities for watching and photographing wildlife in Utah. More than 600 species ... mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles and amphibians ... are found in Utah.
Viewing wildlife has always played a big part in my family’s life. When my kids were little tykes, one of our favorite things to do in the winter was to drive up one of the canyons. Elk, deer and moose were seemingly everywhere. And often, still are.
Utah wildlife is all around us. Along every trail. Near ... and often on ... every roadway. Even, unfortunately, trapped by barricades and killed on freeways. You just need to know where to look and to be aware of their presence.
Because of the state’s diverse climate and terrain, it’s only natural that it would have such a potpourri of wildlife. As people move into the state, remember that wildlife doesn't really have anywhere else to go.
The Canyonlands region with its desert bighorn sheep. The Henry Mountains and Antelope Island with their herds of bison. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge with millions of birds on over 41,000 acres of wetlands! The fast-growing elk herds throughout Utah.
As many residents of
Salt Lake City know, many of our cities were built right in the middle of prime mule deer habitat.
The state of Utah has established a really unique way for residents and visitors to easily view wildlife while exploring our mountains and deserts. Although created decades ago, it still works.
A unique multi-agency partnership ... of federal, state and conservation organizations ... identified 92 sites throughout the state. These sites are identified as the best and most accessible places to see Utah wildlife.
Our Utah wildlife viewing sites have been numbered ... 1 through 92 ... and they’re open to anyone who wants to see wildlife in its natural habitat.
Most of these sites are found along roads and highways! There are nine travel regions in Utah and you’ll see a little bit different mix of wildlife in each.
An amazing little book, Utah Wildlife Viewing Guide published by Falcon Press back in 1992 and written by Jim Cole, is still very accurate in showing you exactly where these Utah wildlife viewing sites are.
Each of these areas is unique in terms of terrain and the ecosystems they sustain. Obviously, you’ll find a far different group of wildlife near the Great Salt Lake than you will in the Riparian areas of the Wasatch and Uinta Mountains.
I’m going to tell you about some of the more interesting Utah wildlife. And even some of the more unusual Utah wildlife encounters. There are even yearly events scheduled around the movement of certain animals.
Although it’s not quite the event it was even a decade ago,
deer hunting in Utah is still a big event. But the
permits sold in 2021 are a far cry from
the 1988 record total of 246,685 .
It wasn't too many years ago that the state's schools were shut down on the Friday prior to opener of the deer hunt. The classrooms were empty anyway. In fact, the University of Utah and BYU found it problematic to schedule home football games on the opener at one time.
You have to remember that the pioneer heritage of Utah was steeped in living off the land. Feeding large families and survival was their biggest concern. This heritage had been handed down from generation to generation.
There are still many Utahns who grew up hunting and ... even now ... have a hard time relating to the waves of newcomers who question their love of the outdoors and hunting. Political correctness didn't do well here for a long time.
Hunting in Utah is still a way of life for a lot of people but not like it used to be. The demographics of the state have changed significantly over last two decades.
There’s a reason why outdoor and hunting related shows draw huge crowds in Salt Lake City every year. And why Cabela’s built two huge superstores just south and north of Salt Lake City opening the first one in 2005.
Some of the different species of Utah wildlife are listed below. If you want to read more about each one, please click on the links:
One thing you need to be aware of when dealing with Utah wildlife. Utah’s population continues to explode. As does the onslaught of people coming here to visit and play.
Of course, much of this website is based on the abundance of outdoor activities the state is known for. But as the numbers of people living here … and visiting here … continues to surge, so will encounters between wildlife and people.
And encounters often lead to conflict.
By educating yourself about some basic facts involving Utah wildlife, you can prevent most of the problems people commonly face when they encounter wildlife in the state.
Ignorance, stupidity and not doing your research are not excuses for bad outdoor encounters. Just read about some of the people who get killed in and around Yellowstone each year. That happens here too.
I recommend you visit Wild Aware Utah to learn more about how to interact with … and react to … any wildlife you may encounter.
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