Hunter Safety Instructors Needed in North-Central Utah
New hunter safety instructors are needed and those interested are encouraged to participate in an upcoming training session beginning April 12 at the Springville Division of Wildlife Resources office at 1115 N. Main. Instructor training sessions continue two nights a week for three weeks.
Instructor training is free, but instructors must be at least 21-years-old and be cleared through a background check. Prior experience in teaching is not required. Lenny Rees, hunter education coordinator for the DWR, commented, "In addition to getting people familiar with what the course teaches, we also teach them how to be good teachers. We focus a lot on teaching techniques and how to relate to the young audience, instructors typically teach."
After being certified, new instructors must teach or assist another instructor in teaching, at least one student course each year. Instructors also must attend a four-hour training seminar each year. Seminars are scheduled throughout Utah.
Those interested in attending the instructor training are encouraged to preregister by calling 1-800-397-6999. They also may register the first night of class. Instructors aren't paid for teaching, but they do receive a lot of rewards. Rees noted, "I think the biggest reward a hunter education instructor receives is the knowledge that they've had a positive impact on the life of a young hunter The information in the course is very positive and ethics and safety oriented. The knowledge that the instructor has played a role in teaching a young hunter those things, you can't put a price tag on that."
Rees also reported that instructors are doing much to further the sport of hunting. He
concluded, "Responsibility and ethics are taught throughout the course, and being able to tie
everything that's taught back to one's ethical conduct is very, very important and something these
young people will carry with them forever."
Bull Elk stranded on Ledge in Price Canyon
Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) biologists recently responded to a report of five bull elk stranded on a ledge in Price Canyon. A sportsman collecting shed antlers, spotted the bulls on the Castle Gate formation high above the Price River Water Treatment Plant and reported the situation to the DWR.
During the initial
investigation, it was discovered
that the bulls had worked their
way down through a series of
ledges onto a small bench. After
eating the available forage, the
elk were unable to ascend the steep stair-step of ledges back to the top. These bulls became
trapped between the ledges above and a sheer drop-off.
The physical condition of these bulls was an immediate concern and five DWR employees backpacked alfalfa pellets to the immediate vicinity of the elk. Unfortunately they were unable administer relief. "From our vantage point, you could count their ribs," remarked Dave Rich of the DWR, who helped with the intended rescue effort. "They were in very poor shape."Besides the five bulls reported, the rescue team could see two dead bulls, which had already starved to death.
Returning the following day, rescue party members climbed to the ridge, carrying tools and explosives, hoping to blast an escape route, which would allow the bulls to climb out. However, due to the height and thickness of the ledge above the bulls, the plan was abandoned.
"We also considered using a helicopter to immobilize and lower the bulls to freedom," stated Brad Crompton, DWR biologist for the Price area. "But there wasn't enough room to safely fly or land a helicopter. The sheer cliffs presented a very dangerous situation. One of the bulls had somehow made his way out onto a very precarious point- only about ten feet by fifteen feet. We watched him stand on this tiny shelf with nowhere to go. There was about 100 feet of ledge above him and a 100-foot drop to the hillside below."
After considering all possible means of rescuing the stranded bulls, and considering their
depleted physical condition, Director Miles Moretti made the decision to humanely dispatch the
animals, which was done that afternoon. Come spring, DWR biologists will return to assess
whether something can be done to keep elk from becoming stranded on this ledge in the future.
Tamarisk removed from Utah Lake
Approximately 50 volunteers helped remove tamarisk from wetlands around Utah Lake to improve habitat and limit spread of this very aggressive non-native plant. The tamarisk removal project took place on the south end of Utah Lake at the Utah Lake Wetland Preserve.
Scott Root with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, commented, "Chain saws are definitely the way to go...we only had a couple working and all of us were very sore after pruning and sawing tamarisk for 4 hours!"
Tamarisk are native to Asia and were brought to the US to prevent erosion, act as windbreaks and provide shade for livestock. They have spread very rapidly and now cover over 1 million acres in the western US. Their roots can go down as far as 100 feet and are a problem because the can soak up approximately 200 gallons of water a day. As they do this, salt is removed from the water and ends up in the leaves. These leaves fall off and the salt makes the soil around the plant intolerable for other plants.
The U.S. Dept of Agriculture estimates that between 2 million and 4.5 million acre feet of water are consumed each year on the West's 1 million acres of tamarisk. That is enough water for 20 million people or enough irrigation water for 1 million acres of cropland..
Volunteers ranged from government employees from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the US Forest Service and Utah County to dedicated hunters, who also helped remove these invasive plants.
For more information or to volunteer for future projects, contact Dave Lee, Utah Lake
Wetlands Preserve Coordinator, at 801-243-4103. Scott Root noted, "There is plenty more tamarisk to be removed."
Adopt a Lek with the Wild Bird Center
The Layton, Wild Bird Center has partnered with the Wasatch Audubon Chapter and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Northern Region in volunteering to monitor sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse Leks in Northern Utah. Justin Dolling, DWR Wildlife Manager for Northern Utah, approached Bill Fenimore, owner of the Wild Bird Center to seek help in finding volunteers for lek monitoring.
Volunteering is an important citizen science initiative that relieves division biologists to perform other important projects. Experienced volunteer birders can gather the important biological data needed by DWR on the number, sex and species of grouse using Leks, which are the traditional spring strutting grounds.
Fenimore who is a volunteer Naturalist for DWR at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area was happy to participate and arranged for the Wasatch Audubon to join with the Wild Bird Center in this "Adopt a Lek" program.
It is important to gather good data on the numbers of grouse using leks. Grouse are a sensitive species in Utah and there are several conservation efforts in Northern Utah to improve wildlife habitat, especially for grouse. Fenimore serves on the Rich County Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) board. The CRM has several range rehabilitation projects to improve Sage-steppe habitat in process now that is important for grouse. The volunteer system assists the DWR and creates a win-win for everyone, especially the grouse.
Interested individuals are invited to join the Layton, Wild Bird Center, Sat., April 16th for a special free nature/bird walk, to a sage grouse lek. The group will leave from the Layton, Wild Bird Center at 5 a.m. Those participating will see and hear sage grouse, as they vocalize, strut and fight to exert dominance on the lek. Sage grouse gather at the lek to attract mates.
These bird walks are a great family activity and a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of nature. Expert birder and Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) volunteer Naturalist, Bill Fenimore will lead this bird walk.
The Wild Bird Center is located in the Layton Market Center, off I-15 at Exit 335 (across from Barnes & Noble). Call 801-525-8400 or visit the Bird Walk calendar on their web site at http://www.wildbirdcenter.com/stores/layton
Photo: Greater Sage Grouse taken by Jim McIntyre.
Star and Sun Party Season begins
Continuing a 34 year tradition, the Salt Lake Astronomical Society invites everyone to view the wonders of the universe through some of the largest astronomical telescopes in Utah at their series of free star and Sun parties.
Participants will be invited to look through the two massive telescopes in the society's observatory and many personal telescopes provided by society members. Participants may also bring their own observing equipment and receive assistance if desired.
Highlights for this year include stunning views of Jupiter and Saturn early in the season, incredibly detailed views of countless galaxies and nebulae throughout the season and some of the best views ever of the Red Planet Mars near season's end.
In addition to the nighttime offerings, special solar telescopes give amazing views of our Sun at noontime Sun parties throughout the observing season. The location of the star parties alternates between the Harmons Observatory at the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex (SPOC) and the parking lots of various Harmons grocery stores in the Salt Lake Valley.
SPOC is located at 15 Plaza in Stansbury Park and can be reached by taking Interstate 80
west from Salt Lake City to the Stansbury / Tooele exit (#99) and then following the signs south,
first to Stansbury Park and then to the observatory. Drive time from downtown Salt Lake City is
about 35 minutes. The location of all of this year's Sun parties will be Winchester Park which is located at 1250 W. Winchester Street in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Valley star party locations include the Brickyard Harmons at 3200 S. 1300 E. and the Midvale Harmons at 7755 S. 700 E.
All evening events begin at dusk while the daytime Sun parties run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. All events are held weather permitting. Additional information can also be found on the society's web site at http://slas.us and by phoning the observatory at (435) 882-1209. The April and May party schedule follows.
15 Star party at Midvale Harmons
16 Astronomy Day star party at SPOC
23 Sun party at Winchester Park
30 Star party at SPOC
13 Star party at Brickyard Harmons
14 Star party at SPOC
21 Sun party at Winchester Park
28 Star party at SPOC
April 9 Snow Canyon State Park - Ivins
Snow Canyon State Park reveals Wildflowers
Snow Canyon State Park invites the public
to participate in a special hike/presentation
discussing wildflowers on April 9 from 9 to 10:30
a.m. Participants will enjoy the beauty of local
wildflowers as the reproductive strategies of plants
are discussed during the two-mile round-trip hike.
Registration is required. For more information,
call (435) 628-2255.
Hunting Permits Approved for National Wildlife Convention
A national wildlife convention, which could bring millions of dollars to Utah to help the state's wildlife took a step closer to reality at a recent Utah Wildlife Board meeting. Board members approved a rule to provide convention organizers with up to 200 limited entry hunting permits. Approximately half of those permits would be big game permits. All of the permits would be available through a draw conducted by the convention organizers.
The organizers, who are required to be from conservation organizations, will handle the application and drawing process and will be allowed to keep the application fees. The conservation groups pledged to spend most of the application fees on wildlife-related conservation projects in Utah.
The first convention will likely be held in early 2007 and would be the national or regional convention for conservation groups that should include the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.
"The Division of Wildlife Resources is excited about the convention and the money it will
bring to Utah to help conserve wildlife for everyone to enjoy," said Alan Clark, assistant director
of the DWR. The following is information from the DWR that should help clear up
some misunderstandings about the convention:
* Anyone who is eligible to hunt in Utah can apply for a permit. The permits will not be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Instead, they will be available through a random draw process conducted by the convention organizers.
* The fee for a permit will be the fee that is normally charged for the permit, plus a $5 nonrefundable application fee.
* Applications will be available at the convention site. Applications must be completed in-person and left at the convention site, but those who apply do not have to pay a convention
entrance fee to apply and they are not required to attend the convention. Online and mail-in
applications are not accepted.
* Permits will be offered for several different hunts, and applicants can apply once for each hunt. For example, if permits are authorized for five elk hunts, applicants can apply once for each of those hunts. The cost to apply is $5 for each hunt for which an applicant applies.
* The convention permits allow hunters to hunt specific units only. They are not statewide permits.
* The total number of permits given to convention organizers may not exceed more than
200 permits. Of those 200 permits, the DWR estimates about half will be big game permits. The
remaining permits will be for other species for which permits are allocated through a draw, including
wild turkey, black bear and cougar.
* The number of permits provided to convention organizers will be allocated by the Wildlife Board each year. The number of total permits given to conservation groups will be very small and should not have a noticeable effect on drawing odds.
* Only groups that have a proven track record of raising money for wildlife conservation in Utah will be allowed to bid on the opportunity to conduct the drawing.