HB 295 was passed during the 2021 legislative session and went into effect May 5. This law restricts the baiting of big game animals (like deer and elk) when hunting in Utah. In the new law, “bait” is defined as intentionally placing food or nutrient substances – including salt or other mineral blocks – to manipulate the behavior of wildlife for the purpose of hunting or attempting to harvest big game.
“In a nutshell, baiting big game is illegal if your intentions are to lure an animal to an area to hunt or harvest it,” DWR Law Enforcement Captain Wyatt Bubak said. “Baiting wildlife can artificially distribute animals on the landscape, which can potentially result in habitat damage and increased disease transmission. There are also concerns related to the ‘fair chase’ of baiting animals when hunting. Our conservation officers will be enforcing this law during this fall’s big game hunting seasons.”
Someone can still use bait during the summer months while they are scouting an area they plan to hunt that fall, but they must remove the bait before the hunt – with enough advance time that the animal isn’t still being lured to that area.
“An area is no longer considered to be baited when a big game animal’s behavior is no longer influenced by the bait,” Bubak said. “If an animal keeps returning to the exact area where bait was removed right before hunting season, that area is still considered to be baited.”
If someone is not planning to hunt and doesn’t have a hunting permit, they are still allowed to use bait to simply view or photograph wildlife.
One exception to the big game baiting law is that someone is allowed to hunt big game over a salt or mineral block if it was placed by an agricultural producer – like a cattle rancher – as part of their normal agricultural practices for their livestock.
Violations under the new baiting law may result in criminal charges ranging from a class B misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, and may also lead to the suspension of one’s hunting privileges. Anyone who sees someone hunting big game using bait should report it to DWR conservation officers using one of the following methods:
• Call the UTiP hotline at 1-800-662-3337
• Submit a tip through the UTDWR law enforcement app (available as a free download for iOS (Apple) and Android devices)
• Send a text to 847411