Ducks Should Stay in Utah Longer This Season
Ducks should stay in Utah longer this season, which could mean better hunting for Utah's waterfowl hunters during the upcoming 107-day waterfowl hunting season, beginning Oct. 1.
Tom Aldrich, migratory game bird coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, reported, "The number of ducks coming through Utah this fall should be pretty similar to last season, but there's some good news for those hunting marshes along the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. The wet winter and spring has raised the level of the Great Salt Lake by more than one foot. That one-foot increase has created thousands of additional surface acres of water for ducks to rest on when they leave the marshes to escape the hunting pressure."
He added, "As soon as the hunt starts, ducks start looking for a place to escape the hunting pressure and rest, and the Great Salt Lake is the best rest area we have. The birds rest on the lake for awhile, and then they make flights back into the marshes to feed. When the weather gets rough, the birds also come into the marshes looking for a place to ride out the storm.
"With all of the space that's available on the lake right now, the birds have plenty of room to rest and that should keep more birds in Utah longer into the season," Aldrich suggested. "Because more birds will be around for a longer period of time, hunters should enjoy a better hunt this season."
For the first time in four years, the pintail duck season will be longer than 61 days. This
year, pintails may be taken during the entire 107-day season. "Pintail numbers are still way below
their 50-year average, but a wet spring on the southern Alberta prairies helped the birds bounce back
this year," Aldrich noted. "Hopefully that trend will continue." Hunters are still limited to one pintail a day.
Canada goose hunters can hunt geese into late January this season, and that change should
result in some of the best goose hunting seen in Utah in years. Utah's 107-day goose season is
split into two parts. The first part runs from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1. The season will then close, but it will
reopen Dec. 17, 2005 and run until Jan. 29, 2006. Aldrich explained, "As soon as the shooting starts in October, many of the Canada geese in Utah head for urban areas where they spend most of the season and where they can't be hunted. In January, the geese start moving back to the marshes in preparation for the breeding season."
Data the DWR has collected from four different harvest surveys across the state shows
the number of Canada geese taken by hunters starts to climb in early January. "Even more geese
will leave the urban areas later in January, and we think hunting will get better and better as the
month progresses," Aldrich stated. "Canada goose hunters should enjoy some great hunting this season, and I think they'll take more geese."
And it's not only Wasatch Front hunters who should benefit from the change. "Geese
across the state become more active in January," Aldrich concluded. "I think this change will
benefit hunters across Utah and that goose hunters across the state will enjoy some great goose
hunting this season." For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
Chukar Partridge Released
About 4,000 chukar partridge were recently released by the Division of Wildlife Resources across Utah in preparation for the hunt now underway. Adult pen-reared birds were released as part of a continued effort to provide more hunting opportunity for Utah's upland game sportsmen.
Since the closing of the DWR's last
game farm in 1993, many Utah upland game
hunters have expressed an interest in seeing
some of their license funds used to propagate
game birds for release into the wild for
hunting. The DWR started limited releases of
chukar partridge again in
The DWR is currently not operating a
game farm of its own, as was the case until
1993. Instead, birds for release were grown by
a Utah game bird producer, purchased under
contract by the DWR and released into the
wild. Chukars were released into areas where
the DWR has
constructed new game bird water guzzlers and areas where chukar populations have been depressed because of severe drought or winter conditions.
Since the mid-1990s, using Habitat Funds, the DWR has constructed hundreds of new 350-gallon game bird and small mammal guzzlers in the best chukar habitat of Utah's desert country. Guzzlers have been installed on many west desert mountain ranges, from the Utah-Idaho border to the Mohave Desert of Washington County in the very southwestern corner of the state. The new guzzler design allows the watering devices to be placed in the roughest and rockiest habitats Utah has to offer--ideal for the chukar partridge.
The new guzzlers are placed in long, narrow canyons with steep, rocky slopes that
provide good escape cover for chukars. Complexes of four to six guzzlers are built approximately
one mile apart in an area. Biologists then move down the mountain range a couple of miles and build
another guzzler complex. The idea behind the guzzler construction scheme is to place water where birds would normally look for water and to provide enough water in an area so birds can move from day to day to forage and still be in close proximity to drinking water.
Pen-reared chukars were released in the following areas:
Box Elder -Bovine Mountains (South End)-Goose Creek Mountains (South End)-Grouse Creek Mountains (South End)-Hogup Mountains (North End)-Pilot Mountains (North End)-Wildcat Mountains
Summit -Echo Junction-Henefer-Echo Wildlife Management Area
Juab -Long Ridge West of Mona
Sanpete -West Side of Gunnison Reservoir
Utah -Wasatch Front from Springville to Pleasant Grove-West Mountain
Iron -Lund-Parowan Gap
Millard -Black Hills -Corn Creek-Marjum Pass-Notch Peak- Pahvant Butte
Sevier -Sevier Valley
Duchesne -Four Mile Canyon-Sandwash
Uintah -Willow Creek
Carbon -Farhnum-Pinnacle Canyon
Emery -Ferron Canyon-Miller Creek-Moore
A portion of the chukars that were released were banded with aluminum leg bands.
Hunters who harvest banded birds should phone information into DWR at the telephone number
printed on the band, or they can submit band information online at
http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/uplandgame/index.html#bird_band Biologists will use
information collected from band returns to assess released bird returns to the hunter's bag, survival information and dispersion of birds into preferred habitats.
Because of safety concerns for potentially overcrowding areas with hunters, and because
of the sensitivity of the location of guzzler sites being used by wildlife, the DWR will not
provide maps of specific guzzler site locations or more specific release information than that
listed above. A map depicting guzzler distribution and densities throughout Utah can be found on the DWR upland game web page at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/pdf/guzzlermap.pdf
Chukars are an exotic bird, 15 inches in length and weighing 20 ounces. They are native
to places like India and Afghanistan in the Middle East. The chukar partridge inhabits some of
the most inhospitable habitat Utah has to offer. Chukars are found in the barren desert areas of the
state and prefer steep, rocky, arid slopes. Low growing shrubs, such as sagebrush, saltbush and cheatgrass vegetative zones above and below the juniper tree belt, seem to be preferred. Talus and rocky slopes provide chukars with concealment and escape cover. Foods consist of grass
seeds, weed seeds, buds, flowers and, in the winter, new growth cheatgrass. Male and female chukars are mostly identical in appearance, except male birds often have a "button-like" spur on the back of the leg.
The 2005 chukar season opened Sept. 17 and continues through Jan. 31, 2006 in some
areas of Utah. Both males and females may be hunted. The bag limit is five birds and the
possession limit is 10.
View Migrating Raptors Sept. 24
A chance to view and learn more about migrating birds of prey will be available Sept. 24, during Utah's annual Raptor Watch Day. Viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Orem Overlook along Squaw Peak Road, east of Orem. Squaw Peak Road is accessed via the Provo Canyon Road. To reach the Provo Canyon Road, exit I-15 at Exit 275 and travel eastbound on 800 N. in Orem.
Raptor Watch Day is hosted annually by the Division of Wildlife Resources. "Fall colors will just begin to flirt with the eye, temperatures at the watch site will be crisp and, with any luck, clear skies will offer up-close glimpses of harriers, vultures, eagles, hawks and falcons as they continue their annual migration to the south," reported Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR.
"Experts will be available to help
people identify passing birds of prey and to
answer any questions they have about
raptor migration," Walters said. "This
year's Raptor Watch Day may be one of the
better opportunities to take a few hours, or
a day, to spend relaxing and watching
raptors." For more information, call Walters at (801) 538-4771.
View Thousands of Kokanee Salmon at Strawberry Wildlife Festival
Thousands of fluorescent red kokanee salmon can be viewed at Strawberry Reservoir right now, with more than 4,000 salmon currently in the Division of Wildlife Resource's fish trap and egg-taking facility along the Strawberry River. "Numbers-wise, this is the third best year we've had at the fish trap for kokanee salmon in the 15 years salmon have been in the reservoir," exclaimed Roger Wilson, Strawberry Reservoir project leader for the DWR.
You can view the salmon by walking along the "Discovery Boardwalk Trail" located behind the Strawberry Visitor Center. The visitor center is 23 miles east of Heber City along US-40 (Highway 40). Viewing is free of charge.
Salmon emerge from the depths of Strawberry Reservoir in late August and September
and migrate upstream to find an area to spawn. When the salmon work their way into the DWR
fish trap and egg-taking facility (located along the Strawberry River) biologists take eggs and milt
(sperm) from the fish until the quota of eggs is met. Many salmon also are allowed to go upstream to spawn naturally.
Biologists remove milt and eggs from the kokanee in the egg-taking facility by gently squeezing the stomach of the salmon. If the fish are "ripe" the eggs will liberally squirt out onto a fine mesh net. The eggs are then placed into a container with water, milt is added to fertilize the eggs and the eggs are taken to a DWR fish hatchery. More than 90 percent of the eggs taken to a hatchery will usually hatch, while egg survival in the wild is often less than 10 percent.
Biologists generally process the fish twice weekly and expect to easily reach this year's egg-take goal of 1.7 million eggs. Kokanee have an interesting life cycle that involves their shiny silver bodies changing to a bright red color when they prepare to spawn. Males also develop a noticeable hook jaw and a hump to their back. Towards the end of the spawn, the flesh and internal organs of the salmon begin to break down and they die shortly after they spawn.
In addition to sterile rainbow trout and
Bear Lake cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon
play an important role in the management of
Strawberry Reservoir. Kokanee compete with
Utah chubs for food, add variety for anglers,
provide forage for the Bear Lake cutthroat
trout and provide a
great watchable wildlife opportunity.
While you can view kokanee salmon anytime during the next few weeks, DWR biologists will be on hand Sept. 23 and 24, during the Fifth Annual Strawberry Wildlife Festival, to lecture and provide people a closer look at these fish. The Strawberry Wildlife Festival celebrates the many wildlife species found throughout the Strawberry Valley and is held annually during the kokanee salmon spawning run. Festival events will be held at the Strawberry Visitor Center and include educational displays, a fishing simulator, birding walks, Smokey Bear, posters and other activities.
Admission to the festival is free. The festival will be held at the Strawberry Visitor Center from noon to 6 p.m. on Sept. 24 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 25.
"Alhough a little tricky to catch, kokanee salmon are some of the best-tasting fish the state has to offer," commented Root. "Most are caught by trolling in deeper water with downrigger equipment, or using a fish finder to find the schools and then vertically jigging for them. They tend to stay in deeper water, so a boat is essential.
He added, "They also have a soft mouth,
which makes bringing them into the boat
successfully a challenge; they need to be reeled in
carefully and netted at the boat." Root reminds
anglers that the tributaries to Strawberry
Reservoir are closed during the spawn to protect the salmon and that the reservoir and tributaries
have special fishing regulations. For more information, see the 2005 Utah Fishing Proclamation.
The proclamation is available at the DWR's Web site ( http://www.wildlife.utah.gov ) and from
fishing and hunting license agents and DWR offices. For more information call Scott Root, DWR
Central Region conservation outreach manager, at (801) 491-5656.
Kokanee Salmon Will Be Bright Red at Sept. 24 Event
In September and early October, you can see an unusually colored wild fish swimming in several rivers and streams in Utah. Utah's kokanee salmon turn a brilliant red when they move into the streams to spawn.
To mark the event, the Division of Wildlife Resources will host a Kokanee Salmon Day on Sept. 24 at Sheep Creek, a tributary of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. DWR biologists will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to help viewers see the fish and to interpret the kokanee's behavior.
Display materials also will be available. The Sheep Creek site is about six miles south of
Manila on SR-44 (Highway 44). Utah's salmon populations are a completely freshwater species. They
follow a similar life cycle to other salmon except instead of migrating from the Pacific Ocean to freshwater streams, kokanee migrate from freshwater lakes and reservoirs. Populations from Flaming Gorge, Strawberry Reservoir and Porcupine Reservoir spawn during the months of
September and October. Most other populations spawn later in the year.
These early kokanee spawning runs are an excellent opportunity to discover Utah
wildlife. Viewers are asked to watch from the bank and to approach the water quietly and to
move quietly to avoid disturbing the fish. Also, please keep pets and children out of the water.
Studies have documented that kokanee salmon are sensitive to bank disturbances and that wading
in the stream can disrupt the spawning run, destroy the redds (egg nests) and cover the eggs with silt.
Cougar Hunting Applications available by Sept. 27
Applications to hunt cougars on limited entry areas during Utah's 2005 - 2006 season will be available by Sept. 27 as a total of 143 permits will be offered. Applications will be available from hunting and fishing license agents statewide, Division of Wildlife Resources offices and the DWR's Web site ( http://www.wildlife.utah.gov ).
To be entered in the 2005 - 2006 Utah Cougar Draw, mail-in applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 12. Applications submitted through the DWR's Web site must be received no later than 11 p.m. on Oct. 12. Hunters who have a major credit card are encouraged to apply on the Web site. "That's the quickest and easiest way to apply," reported Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the DWR.
Hunters who don't have a major credit card must mail their application in. To avoid
missing the 5 p.m., Oct. 12 cut-off date, Tutorow encourages applicants to obtain an application
and mail it in as soon as possible. Tutorow also reminds hunters that if they draw a permit for a limited
entry area, they may not purchase a permit to hunt on a harvest objective area. "Before applying for a limited entry permit, hunters need to decide which hunt they want to participate in," she said.
Draw results will be posted by Nov. 16 at DWR offices and the DWR Web site. For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
Free State Parks Day Events scheduled
Celebrate National Public Lands Day and Free State Parks Day Saturday, Sept. 24. Day-use fees will be waived at all Utah state parks. (Special fees, such as golf and camping fees still apply.) Special events that day include:
Antelope Island State Park: Volunteer to help with the Bridger Bay Campground renovation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., then enjoy a barbeque. Or assist with preparing the bison corrals for the 19th Annual Bison Roundup from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Snacks will be provided. For more information, call (801) 560-6622.
Deer Creek State Park: Enjoy the new Deer Creek Trail while crews continue their work.
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum: Weaving demonstration by Anita Hathale, master Navajo weaver from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information, call (435) 678-2238.
Fremont Indian State Park and Museum: Movies, talks, and exhibits will be available in the visitor center. All park facilities are open including the picnic area, Castle Rock Campground, visitor center, and more than fifteen hiking and educational trails. Camping fees apply. For more information, call (435) 527-4631.
Goblin Valley State Park: At 10 a.m. at the Observation Point, children six to 12 are invited to learn about BUGS! Discover the mini-beasts of Goblin Valley through the Junior Ranger Program and earn a badge and certificate. Ask a Naturalist Program at the Observation Point between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Park brochures, binoculars, and information will be available. Finally, meet at 8 p.m. at Observation Point for Sand, Stars, and Goblins, an evening walk through the goblins. For more information, call (435) 259-9569
Great Salt Lake State Marina: Wine and Cheese Tour - Join Salt Island Adventures for a cruise on the Great Salt Lake. The cruise includes a wine and cheese expert to pair specialty cheeses with wines. Enjoy an assortment of appetizers, cheeses and wines. For reservations, call (801) 252-9336.
Rock Cliff Nature Center at Jordanelle State Park: Hike with the park naturalist from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call (435) 782-3030.
Kodachrome Basin State Park: Open house at the recently completed visitor contact station. Join park staff to tour the new facility, view displays, and enjoy light refreshments. At 8:30 p.m. enjoy a star show. For more information, call (435) 679-8562.
Otter Creek State Park: At 7 p.m., enjoy evening programs including smores and North Star legends. For more information, call (435) 624-3268.
Palisade State Park: At noon, enjoy hot dogs and drinks and sign up for the horseshoe tournament at 12:30. All day events include random prizes for anyone entering the park, volleyball, putting, and lake games, and prizes for the biggest fish caught. Also, participate in Golf the Pro. Participants must pay for golf, but if your gross score is lower than the pro's, win a free round of golf. For more information, call (435) 835-7275.
Rockport State Park: Park staff hosts an open house at the Old Church, located below Wanship Dam from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy a barbeque and old time music by the bluegrass band Summit County Line. To RSVP or for more information, call (435) 336-2241.
Snow Canyon State Park Lava Tubes Tour: Join Ranger Tim Weimer from 9 to 10:30 a.m., for a two-mile round-trip hike and the chance to explore the unique formations of a lava tube. Space is limited and registration is required. For more information, call (435) 628-2255.
Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum: At 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., join local artist Linda West for dinosaur drawing; at 9 a.m., and 11 a.m., enjoy dinosaur storytelling; from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. children may participate in a dinosaur drawing contest with two age categories, two to six and seven to 12. Prizes awarded in each age category. At 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., enter the Pterosaur glider contest. Judging of the coloring contest begins at 4 p.m. For more information, call (435) 789-3799.
Wasatch Mountain State Park offers free access to the Pine Creek Nature Trail. Experience this 2.5-mile interpretive trail featuring 14 new interpretive signs. A guided hike begins at 10 a.m. for those interested in learning about local plants and animals of this area. Meet guides at the Oak Hollow campground, site 20. For more information, call (435) 654-1791.
Willard Bay State Park hosts a presentation from 1 to 4 p.m., by the Ogden Nature
Center on a variety of animals, including a Bald Eagle named Samson. Learn about these animals
and get a close up view. At 4 p.m., join Park Ranger Drew for a presentation on Dutch oven
cooking. Both events will be held at the Eagle Beach Group Site. For more information, call
Summer changes to Fall
It will probably feel like summer for a while longer, but summer officially ends in Utah and the rest of the northern hemisphere on Thurs, Sept. 22 at 4:23 p.m. According to NASA Solar System Ambassador to Utah Patrick Wiggins, "At that moment the Sun will glide southward across the celestial equator, an event known as the September or autumnal equinox."
The celestial equator is an imaginary line in space directly above Earth's equator. On the day of the equinox the periods of daylight and dark are nearly equal and the Sun rises due east, and sets due west, which Wiggins notes, "can be a problem for drivers in Utah where so many roads run due east and west."
While we who reside in the northern hemisphere think of this month's equinox as the start of the shorter, cooler days of fall, those in the southern hemisphere, where the seasons are reversed, see it as the start of the longer, warmer days of spring.
The next similar event, known as the March or vernal equinox, will occur when the Sun moves northward across the celestial equator next March, marking the start of northern hemispheric spring. Similarly, there are two times a year when the Sun is furthest from the sky's equator. One is at the start of summer, when it's furthest north, and the other is at the start of winter, when it's furthest south. These events are known as the June and December solstices.
For more astronomical information visit Wiggins' NASA Solar System Ambassador web site at http://www.trilobyte.net/paw .