Posted June 6, 2014, 8:34 am
Wildlife Board also approves dove and goose hunting changes
Starting this fall, hunters can help control a growing population of American crows in Utah.
Utah will hold its first crow hunt this fall.
Photo by Scott Root
In addition to approving Utah's first crow hunt, members of the Utah Wildlife Board also increased the number of Canada geese and doves hunters can take this fall.
The board took the action at its meeting on June 5.
Blair Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says crow populations—especially along much of the Wasatch Front—have grown steadily since 1990.
For example, every winter, a Christmas Bird Count survey is conducted in Utah. During the survey, the number of crows spotted between Logan and Salt Lake City increased from about 400 in 1990 to more than 2,400 in 2011.
A Breeding Bird Survey, which is conducted statewide when birds are breeding and nesting in the spring, provides similar results. During the 1990 survey, no crows were spotted. By 2010, more than 150 crows were spotted.
"Not every crow in Utah was spotted during the surveys," Stringham says, "but the trend in the survey results shows crow populations are increasing in the state. Taking some crows will not hurt the overall population."
And, Stringham says, holding a hunt may actually help other birds as well as fruit growers and people who live in urban areas that crows visit.
While it's not a statewide problem, Stringham says crows are damaging fruit, corn and grain crops in some parts of Utah. Crows also raid nests and steal eggs from other birds. And crows carry avian cholera and other diseases that affect birds. "And they damage trees and cause lots of other disturbances in urban areas," he says.
Stringham says more than 400 bird species make their home in Utah during some part of the year. Of the more than 400 bird species, only 33 of them, including crows, can be hunted.
Before the board passed the hunt, Utah was one of only five states that didn't hold a crow hunt. Now that Utah has a hunt, a total of 46 states allow crow hunting.
The 2014 crow hunt runs Sept. 1–30 and Dec. 1–Feb. 28. More information about the hunt will be available in the 2014–2015 Utah Upland Game and Turkey Guidebook. The free guidebook should be available at wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks by mid July.
Stringham says bird hunters in Utah have a long track record of correctly identifying birds in flight. "We'll work actively with hunters to help them tell the difference between crows and ravens," he says.
Dove and goose hunt changes
In addition to the crow hunt, the board also approved the following changes for this fall's migratory game bird hunts:
Stringham says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently completed a multi-year dove hunting study. The study found that regulated hunting does not hurt mourning dove or white-winged dove populations. For that reason, the USFWS has allowed states to raise the bag limit and lengthen the season this fall.
Utah's 2014 hunt runs Sept. 1–Oct. 30.
Stringham says Canada geese in the West have steadily increased in number over the past 50 years. He says raising the bag limit will give hunters more opportunity and may help decrease the number of geese that visit urban areas.
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