Utah’s waterfowl hunt just started, and it’s already time to start talking about the 2016 – 2017 season.
Blair Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and state wildlife agencies have reached an agreement. The agreement will allow rules for an upcoming season to be approved months in advance. Approving the rules early will allow the agencies to print and distribute information about the season roughly four months before it starts.
“This new approach means we’ll discuss and approve rules, including bag limits, before we have the latest survey data regarding how waterfowl populations are doing,” Stringham says. “The survey, which includes counting the number of ponds available to breeding ducks, and the number of pairs of breeding ducks on the ponds, is conducted in the spring.”
Stringham says biologists are comfortable, though, using data from the spring of one year to set hunting regulations for the fall of the following year.
“After decades of study,” he says, “we’ve learned that hunting has less effect on waterfowl populations than we originally thought. Habitat conditions are the major, deciding factor. For that reason, we’re comfortable using information, which might be a little dated, to set waterfowl regulations. We think letting hunters know what the rules are—months in advance—is worth it.”
So what changes is the DWR recommending for Utah’s 2016 – 2017 waterfowl hunting season? Allowing those 17 years of age and younger to participate in the state’s Youth Waterfowl Hunt, and two goose hunting changes, top the list.
Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources will present the recommendations at public meetings in November. Yu can review the recommendations at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/rac/2015-11_rac_packet.pdf.
Learn more, share your ideas
After you’ve reviewed the ideas at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/rac/2015-11_rac_packet.pdf, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an e-mail to them.
RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Dec. 2 to approve rules for Utah’s 2016 – 2017 waterfowl hunt.
Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:
Shepherd Union Building, Room 400
Weber State University
3848 Harrison Blvd.
Springville Civic Center
110 S. Main St.
Cedar City Middle School
2215 W. Royal Hunte Dr.
John Wesley Powell Museum
1765 E. Main St.
DWR Northeastern Region Office
318 N. Vernal Ave.
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via e-mail. E-mail addresses for your RAC members are available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person’s e-mail address. You should direct your e-mail to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.