Western Hunting, Conservation Expo hits Utah this weekend
A wave of camouflage clothing will take over downtown Salt Lake City over Presidents Day weekend during the 8th annual Western Hunting and Conservation Expo.
Green as in money is another color that will flash at the annual event.
Organizers of the expo, the Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, say up to $10 million will be raised for wildlife conservation during the show, Feb. 13-16 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Much of the money raised comes from auctioning highly sought after hunting tags around the world to the highest bidder. An opportunity to hunt one mule deer buck on Utah's Antelope Island of the Great Salt Lake is expected to draw one of the highest bids. The permit has sold for $250,000 and $310,000 the past two years during the expo.
Idaho hunter Denny Austad was the highest bidder on both occasions and is expected to be a part of the bidding when the 2014 tag is auctioned Feb. 14.
Money from the hunting tags goes back into wildlife management. In Utah, the conservation hunting permit program kicks back 90 percent of the auction price to the state to be used for the same species.
In the case of Antelope Island permits there is also a bighorn sheep auction tag the money goes to Utah State Parks.
Antelope Island State Park manager Jeremy Shaw said money from the 2013 tag was going to be used to plant 10,000 bitterbrush plants and sagebrush, which will benefit all wildlife on the island.
Big spenders are not the only ones welcome; the public is invited to the convention. Entry to the show is $20 for adults and $10 for youth (11-17). Kids under age 10 are free.
Expo officials say the show has expanded 20 percent from last year with more than 150 new exhibitors. An estimated 30,000 people are expected to attend.
Concerts and banquets, including one with keynote speakers former vice president Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, are sold out.
Are you game?
When • Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 13-16, at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Cost • $20 for adults, $10 for youth (11-17); free for 10 and under. Tickets for concerts and banquets during the expo are sold out.