Target shooting in Dry Canyon (Photo: Aaron Doolin)

PROVIDENCE — For the third consecutive year, target shooting is being banned at several northern Utah locations beginning immediately. Due to continuing drought conditions and wildfire concerns, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, in conjunction with the corresponding county sheriff’s departments, are temporarily restricting recreational target shooting with a firearm on 25 wildlife management areas across the state.

Signs prohibiting target shooting in Providence Canyon.

The ban announced Friday includes WMA’s in Richmond, East Fork Little Bear, Hardware, Cinnamon Creek, and Middle Fork in Cache County. It also applies to Coldwater Creek and Brigham Face in Box Elder County, and Woodruff in Rich County.

Target shooting and camping was already restricted for the Millville and Providence area after officials cited years of ongoing issues, including public safety concerns. They also said unattended campfires had been left behind by campers and others.

In addition to target shooting, the ban prohibits the possession of explosives, incendiary or chemical devices or exploding targets in the 25 areas. The temporary restriction only applies to target shooting with a firearm — legal possession of a firearm and hunting are not affected. Fireworks and explosives are never allowed on any WMA in Utah.

The DWR’s latest ban is being issued in an effort to decrease the risk of wildfires being started. The firearm target shooting restrictions will be re-evaluated every two weeks for the duration of the hot, summer months.

DWR Habitat Section Chief Eric Edgley said, “With the extreme dry conditions, any spark can start a fire.

He explained how with firearm target shooting, sparks from metal targets, a bullet or other projectiles glancing off a rock is all it takes to cause a spark and a fire. In 2020, two large wildfires on WMAs burned several hundred acres of wildlife habitat and were started by target shooting with firearms.

Wildlife management areas help minimize and mitigate wildlife depredation on private property, and are vital to providing important winter ranges and feeding grounds for many wildlife species, including big game. These lands are purchased and managed using the money generated by fishing and hunting license sales. Because wildfires can destroy essential wildlife habitat, this temporary ban will protect Utah’s wildlife management areas.

During the temporary restrictions on recreational firearm target shooting, Utahns still have several options available for target shooting. DWR has two public shooting ranges —Cache Valley and Lee Kay — and there are a variety of public and private indoor and outdoor shooting ranges throughout Utah.

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