Hunter Access to Private Lands and Attitudes of Utah Landholders Toward Hunting

James R. Kitts


Immediately following the 1971 upland game season a cpestionnaire booklet was mailed to 2076 Utah farmers and ranchers (landholders) in five southern and six northern counties. Approximately 50 percent were returned containing usable information.

Five categories of hunter access restrictuion were considered: 1) fee systems, 2) leases to private clubs, 3) pheasant hunting units, 4) posting "Hunting by Permission Only, " and 5) posting "No Hunting" or "No Trespassing." Restriction of hunter access to private property occurred twice as frequently in northern counties as in southern counties. Nearly six of every ten northern landholders had an active hunter restriction program.

Sixteen demographic and attitude variables were compared with landholder restriction practices. Ten variables were significantly related to landholder restriction practice at the 90 percent level or higher. These relationships suggest the landholder's prime motivation for restricting hunter access was his desire to protect his investment in buildings, equipment, livestock or crops.

Restriction practices compared between northern and southern landholders showed that stringent hunter restrictions resulted from concentrated hunter activity characteristic of densely populated, industralized areas. Landholders, invited to suggest alternate conditions under which hunters could gain access to restricted land, pointed out that the single most important condition was for the hunter to request permission from the landholder to hunt.

Approximately 88 percent of northern and 91 percent of southern landholders favored the concept of hunting. A Likert five-point Attitude Index, used to: assess landholders' attitudes toward hunting, showed landholders in northern industrial counties (Salt Lake, Utah, Weber) socred 39.9 of 55.0 possible points. Landholders in northern agricultural counties (Cache, Box Elder, Tooele) scored 40.9 points. Southern landholders socred 41. 0 points. Students T-tests between landholder categories (H μ1 = μ2 and α = 0.05) revealed no significant differences. There was no significant relationship between a landholder's attitude score and his hunter restriction policy. Attitude toward hunting was important in determining by what methods landholders restricted hunter access. Landholders with low attitude scores (unfavorable or undecided) tended to post "No Hunting" or "No Trespassing." Those with favorable attitudes tended to use the "Hunt by Permission Only" restriction.