Sage-Grouse hunting changes approved by Utah Wildlife Board

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June 12, 2002

Utah DWR

Sage-Grouse hunting changes approved by Utah Wildlife Board

Vernal — Declining sage-grouse populations will mean fewer opportunities to hunt them in Utah during the next three years.

Beginning this fall, sage-grouse hunters must obtain a permit that will allow them to hunt only on the unit for which the permit is issued. A 9-day season that includes two weekends will be offered on each unit. Each hunter may take a total of two birds.

In the past, an unlimited number of permits have been available and hunters have been allowed to hunt on any unit open to sage-grouse hunting in the state.

Changes regarding sharp-tailed grouse permits, youth upland game hunts and the Goshen Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area were also among items approved by the Utah Wildlife Board at a meeting June 11 in Vernal.

The recommendations approved by the board are for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Sage-Grouse rules

The goal of the limited entry sage-grouse rule is to assure that not more than 10 percent of the fall sage-grouse population in any open area is taken during the hunting season. This strategy is based on Guidelines to Manage Sage Grouse Populations And Their Habitats which was published by a group of sage-grouse experts in the Winter 2000 issue of The Wildlife Society Bulletin. These guidelines are a revision of guidelines that have guided sage-grouse management in the western United States since 1977.

Habitat loss, changes to habitat and predation are among the reasons sage-grouse populations are in decline in Utah, said Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. We re comfortable offering sage-grouse hunting, however, as long as not more than 10 percent of the fall population in any open area is taken each season. This permit system will help assure that.

The following areas will be open to sage-grouse hunting, with the following number of permits available:

Area Total permits
Box Elder County 267      
Rich County 58      
Uintah Basin 145      
Parker Mountain 170      

Permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis at DWR offices beginning Aug. 6. A $5 handling fee will be charged for each permit. Permit application forms will be available in the 2002 — 2004 Utah Upland Game Proclamation, at all DWR offices and on this Web site.

Utah's 2002 sage-grouse season will run Sept. 21 — 29 on all four units. The only exception is for falconers. Falconers who obtain a permit for Box Elder County can hunt in the county from Aug. 14, 2002 to Feb. 15, 2003. Falconers who obtain a permit for any of the other units can hunt from Sept. 2, 2002 to Feb. 28, 2003.

Sharp-tailed Grouse permits

Drought in eastern Box Elder County over the past two years, and a hard winter in the area this past winter, are among reasons sharp-tailed grouse numbers in the area have declined since last year. Because of the lower populations, the board voted to lower sharp-tailed grouse permits from the 663 offered last year, to 143 for this fall.

The 143 sharp-tailed grouse permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at DWR offices beginning Aug. 6. Application forms will be available in the 2002 - 2004 Utah Upland Game Proclamation, at all DWR offices and on the DWR Web site.

A $5 handling fee will be charged for each sharp-tailed grouse permit. Hunters may obtain one permit which will allow them to take two birds during a 9-day season. Utah's 2002 sharp-tailed grouse season will run Nov. 2 - 10.
 


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