Cooperative Wildlife Management Units (CWMUs) are hunt areas consisting of mostly private land that have been authorized for the specific purpose of managing and hunting certain big game species. Certain criteria has to be met to qualify for the program.
The CWMU program is an effort by the Utah Wildlife Board and the Division of Wildlife Resources to recognize the contribution made by private landowners in providing big game habitat on their private lands. In return, a number of public hunters that are drawn through the Utah big game drawing are allowed to hunt specific big game on these CWMUs.
Currently, there are over two million acres of private land comprising 115 CWMUs that are enrolled in this program. A minimum of 10% of the buck mule deer and bull elk permits are made available to the hunting public through the draw. A minimum of 40% of bull moose and buck pronghorn are also available to the Utah public through the annual drawing process. The remaining vouchers are allocated to the CWMUs and may be assigned to private clientele. The vouchers must be redeemed with the State of Utah for the appropriate hunting permit.
Some public land is included within a few of the CWMUs for the following reasons: (a) isolated tracts of land, or (b) for better management such as definite boundary identification. When public lands have been included, the landowner/operator must provide additional hunting opportunities for the public (from 10% to 15% for example).
Typically, both private and public hunters generally enjoy higher success on CWMUs, with less hunting pressure. However, hunters should realize that success is not guaranteed. While hunters often have a better opportunity to harvest a mature animal on CWMUs, most of these units are not managed for trophy quality animals. To better understand the type of animals available on the units, a hunter should contact the landowner/operator before applying for the hunt.
The Division has a grievance process to handle problems that may occur. Hunters and landowner/operators should make every effort to solve the problem by working together in an effort to set up and carry out a successful hunt. If the problem cannot be solved, contact should be made with the Division's regional office where the CWMU is located, and a request for assistance should be made.
CWMUs have produced positive experiences for the majority of public hunters privileged to enter these units. CWMUs have a higher public satisfaction index than limited entry units on average. The Division considers the program to be highly successful, and the public enjoys the opportunity to hunt these private lands that they may otherwise never be able to hunt.
Because CWMUs are a business, hunters must expect a certain amount of structure. Successful applicants should check the UDWR's web page to find out specifics about each CWMU/hunt and then contact the operator if they still have questions.