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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — Utah has a wide variety of wildlife and the Division of Wildlife Resources is hosting two events to give the public an opportunity to see tundra swans and mountain goats.
Both wildlife viewing events will be held Saturday, March 14 and are free to the public. The annual Tundra Swan Day event will be held at the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area near Corinne.
Tundra swans pass through Utah each year during their migration, and the Salt Creek WMA is one of the best places in Utah to get a close look at the birds, according to a DWR news release. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge west of Brigham City is another great place to see and hear hundreds of swans, DWR regional conservation outreach manager Phil Douglass said in the news release.
Douglass said the migration of tundra swans through Utah is happening earlier than normal this year and hundreds of swans were at Salt Creek Thursday. Because swans are moving through the state earlier this year, the number of swans at Salt Creek could dwindle by March 14, the news release said.
“The swan migration usually peaks in mid-March,” Douglass said. “But not this year. Swans are flying through the marshes right now. If you’d like to see the birds, I’d encourage you to visit the marshes as soon as you can. But even if the swans have moved through Utah by then, there will still be lots of other waterfowl and birds to enjoy viewing.”
People are invited to bring binoculars and cameras to the event. The viewing will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Compton’s Knoll viewing area at the Salt Creek WMA.
The Mountain Goat Watch event will be held along the Rock Creek Road at the south slope of the Uinta Mountains. As the snow gets deep in the winter, mountain goats move down onto ridges that are exposed to the sun that provide a great wintering area, the news release said. The Uinta Mountains have more habitat for mountain goats than any other area in Utah and the goat herds are doing great.
Mountain goats were introduced into the Uinta Mountains in 1987 when the DWR released seven animals from Lone Peak, DWR biologist Randall Thacker said in the news release. In 1988 and 1989, biologists released an additional 25 goats from Olympic National Park. Between 1992 and 2000, the herd was supplemented with 57 additional animals from two Utah herds. The herd has continued to grow ever since.
"During our last trend count in 2011, we counted 858 mountain goats,” Thacker said in the news release. “That shows how good the habitat on the Uinta Mountains is."
The viewing will run from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be available so people can get a close-up view of the mountain goats. People are encouraged to dress warmly and if the weather is too severe, the event will be cancelled, the news release said.