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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are recommending several changes for the 2017-2018 duck and bear hunting season and are asking for the public’s feedback.
Duck hunt proposals
The first proposal for the duck hunt would be to create two duck hunting zones in Utah, wildlife resource officials said. The hunt in the northern zone would run from Oct. 7 to Jan. 20 and the hunt in the southern zone would run from Oct. 14 to Jan. 27.
State wildlife migratory game bird coordinator Blair Stringham said splitting the hunt into two zones would benefit hunters in several ways. During the hunt for the past several years, warm weather in northern Utah has delayed birds from migrating to southern Utah during the first part of the season. So delaying the start of the hunt in the southern zone would provide hunters with more birds.
It would also give hunters more opportunities to hunt because they can start in the northern zone and after that hunt ends, travel to the southern zone for an extra week of hunting. Having two duck zones would also allow wildlife resources to offer two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, with one in each zone. The north zone youth hunt would take place Sept. 23 and the southern zone youth hunt would be held Sept. 30.
The second proposal for duck hunting would reduce the number of pintail duck permits. In recent surveys, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists saw 14 percent fewer pintail ducks than in 2015 so biologists are recommending only allowing hunters to take one pintail per day during the hunt, as opposed to the two per day in previous hunts.
State wildlife resource biologists are also proposing to establish a waterfowl rest area at the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area west of Hooper. The area just west of the headquarters building would be closed to hunting.
“Rest areas are great for hunting,” Stringham said. “They keep birds in areas the birds would normally leave because of hunting pressure. After congregating on a rest area, the birds will fly from the rest area to other areas on a (waterfowl management area). And that’s when hunters can take them.”
Bear hunt proposals
Black bear populations are doing well in southeastern Utah, and in order to better protect livestock in the area, state wildlife resource biologists are recommending a slight increase in permits for the 2017-2018 season. Biologists are recommending 46 additional permits to hunt on limited-entry units in Utah, the majority of which will be on units in southeastern Utah, wildlife resource officials said.
“About 46 percent of the hunters with limited-entry permits end up taking a bear,” state wildlife biologist Rusty Robinson said. “Based on the past success rate, adding 46 permits would likely result in about 22 additional bears being taken.”
The public is encouraged to share their feedback on the proposals by emailing their Regional Advisory Council member or by attending the meeting in their area.
RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet on Jan. 3, 2017 to approve the new rules for Utah’s 2017 black bear and duck hunting seasons.