OGDEN, Utah — As hikers and hunters head out on some of the same trails this fall, Utah wildlife officials warn hikers that they should wear bright clothing and take steps to make sure they’re visible to hunters.
Phil Douglass, outreach manager with the Utah Division of Wildlife, said hunters can pretty much go anywhere hikers can, including the foothills, where an extended archery program allows hunters to help thin out urban deer populations.
“I get that kind of question every year, where is it safe to hike?” Douglass said. “My recommendation is to always be a defensive hiker.”
Douglass recommends hikers wear orange, like hunters, the Standard-Examiner reported Thursday.
“We don’t want there to be a gap between outdoors enthusiasts,” Douglass said. “We want to bridge that gap.”
Douglass said that in his 30 years with the division, he isn’t aware of any incidents between hunters and hikers. But fall is the busiest time of the year for hunters, he said.
Hunters are required to take hunter education courses and obtain licenses and permits before they can hunt, which are meant to limit conflicts and injury.
“Hunters, they go through an extensive hunter education course that routinely hammers in ‘make sure of your target before you pull the trigger,'” Douglass said.
There have been six hunting-related deaths in Utah since 2007. Last year, the Division of Wildlife issued 435,024 hunting licenses and had five incidents with zero deaths.
Douglass said hunters actually provide benefits to hikers, such as funding wildlife management areas with trails open to the non-hunting public.
Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net