DWR recommends prohibiting trumpeter swan hunting, proposes changes to upland game and turkey hunting
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Flock of wild swans flying above Farmington Bay

DWR recommends prohibiting trumpeter swan hunting, proposes changes to upland game and turkey hunting

Salt Lake City — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending a few changes to upland game hunting and waterfowl hunting — including making it illegal to harvest trumpeter swans — as well as changes to a few other items. The DWR is seeking the public's feedback on the proposals online and at the upcoming public meetings.

Waterfowl and swan hunting recommendations

Flock of wild swans flying above Farmington Bay

In 2019, swan regulations changed to expand the hunting boundaries in Box Elder County and to increase the total number of swan permits offered in Utah. Since that change, the DWR has had to close the swan hunting season early for the last four years, due to the federal quota of trumpeter swans being met.

Utah is one of only nine states in the U.S. that allows hunting for swans. Due to the low population size of trumpeter swans in the Greater Yellowstone area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets an annual harvest quota (currently 20 birds) for the number of trumpeter swans that can be harvested in Utah.

In an effort to prevent the swan hunting season from having to close early, the DWR is proposing to prohibit the harvest of trumpeter swans in Utah. Only tundra swan hunting permits would be issued to hunters, and it would be illegal to harvest a trumpeter swan. Hunters would still be required to check in any harvested swans at a DWR office. Trumpeter swans would be seized.

"We have seen a higher number of trumpeter swans harvested the last four years because there are more migrating through Utah than in previous years," Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Migratory Game Bird Program Coordinator Jason Jones said. "We are hopeful that this change will prevent hunting opportunities from being taken away due to the early-season closures."

A few other changes to waterfowl are being proposed as well, including updating the rule to allow electronic duck stamps in accordance with recent legislative changes. In addition to having a hunting license, anyone hunting waterfowl in Utah is required to have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, and those 16 years of age or older are required to also have a federal duck stamp. Previously, duck stamps could only be purchased from a local post office, various license agents or by phone. HB341 is now in effect and authorizes the DWR to sell duck stamps online on the DWR website, in order to make transactions easier for hunters.

Another rule change being proposed is to clarify that dogs are allowed year-round in the Hasenyager Nature Preserve area of Farmington Bay (where the George S. and Dolores Dor&eaccute; Eccles Wildlife Education Center is located) but must be kept on a leash. Other parts of the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area are closed annually between March 10 and Aug. 31 to protect nesting birds.

Proposed changes to upland game and turkey hunting

The DWR also proposed an updated turkey management plan. The current plan was approved in 2020 and will expire in 2029, unless an extension is approved. The plan outlines several goals for turkey management in Utah, including:

  • Maintaining and improving wild turkey populations (within the carrying-capacity of the habitat)
  • Minimizing conflicts between people and turkeys
  • Improving turkey hunting opportunities across the state
  • Enhancing the appreciation of wild turkeys in Utah
  • Enhancing interagency cooperation for the management of turkeys

The planning process resulted in the development of an emergency feeding policy and updated release sites for turkeys in the management plan. The recommendations also include updates to the limited-entry hunt boundaries (which will follow existing roads rather than county lines).

Some turkey and upland game hunting changes are also being proposed, including:

  • Allowing airguns to be used for hunting and harvesting turkeys during the fall hunts.
  • Allocating three vouchers per individual for harvesting turkeys in depredation situations, where the turkeys are causing damage to private property. This quota will not count toward the over-the-counter permit quota per hunter.
  • Allowing owners and operators of commercial poultry or game bird facilities to apply for and obtain a Certificate of Registration from the DWR in order to remove wild turkeys from the area.
  • Prohibiting robotic decoys, night-vision devices and drones in turkey and upland game hunting, in order to be consistent with other technology rules for other species.
  • Allowing three turkey hunting permits (two beardless permits and one either-sex permit) to be allocated to an individual hunter during the fall turkey hunts.
  • Prohibiting dog training near sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse leks (breeding sites) from March 1 to May 31.

Live game birds rule amendments

The DWR is also proposing some updates to the rules regarding pen-reared game birds. Currently, these rules are distributed across six DWR rules and one Utah Department of Agriculture and Food rule. The DWR is making these recommendations to:

  • Update the rules to align conflicting rule language across agencies.
  • Simplify DWR rules by consolidating pen-reared game bird laws into a single rule.
  • Shift the regulation of commercial game bird growers to the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
  • Update disease-testing requirements in order to meet the challenges of emerging diseases that impact game birds.

Other proposed changes

The DWR oversees the Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit program, which allocates hunting permits to private landowners who then provide hunting opportunities to public and private hunters for a variety of wildlife species. The CWMU program in Utah has opened more than 2 million acres of private land to the public for hunting.

The DWR is recommending that two CWMUs be granted variance requests to include additional non-contiguous land within their CWMU boundaries: the Avintaquin Canyon CWMU in northeastern Utah and the North Peaks CWMU in northern Utah.

The DWR is also recommending some administrative updates to the Collection, Importation, and Possession of Animals rule. This rule regulates the collection, importation, transportation and possession of animals in Utah. The proposed update will simplify the rule and make it easier to understand and navigate.

Another proposal is to update the translocation management plan for desert tortoises in southwestern Utah. Mojave desert tortoises, native to areas north and west of the Colorado River in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California, were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. As such, desert tortoises are protected under federal and state laws. Washington County is the native range of the Mojave desert tortoise in Utah. It's also an area with a lot of growth and recreation, which leads to more human-tortoise encounters.

The updates to this plan outline how displaced desert tortoises from developed areas will be used to enhance desert tortoise recovery efforts in Washington County by:

  • Strategically moving displaced tortoises to low-density areas that provide the best conservation needs and will enhance populations within the Upper Virgin River Recovery Unit, east of the Beaver Dam Mountains.
  • Identifying translocation areas that contain criteria necessary to sustain populations.
  • Supplementing core populations and augmenting connectivity between the desert tortoise conservation areas.

Give feedback

The public meetings for the recommendations can either be viewed virtually or attended in person. You can view the biologists' presentations before the meetings and share your feedback about them on the DWR website. The presentations are also available on the DWR YouTube channel, but comments can only be submitted through the forms on the DWR website.

The public comment period opened on May 3 for each of the five Regional Advisory Council meetings and for the Utah Wildlife Board meeting. Public comments submitted within the online-comment timeframes listed below will be shared with the RAC and wildlife board members at each respective meeting. Members of the public can choose to either watch the meetings online or attend them in person. If you wish to comment during the meeting, you should attend in person — online comments will only be accepted until the deadlines listed below.

The meetings will be held on the following dates and times:

  • Central Utah RAC meeting: May 16 at 6 p.m. at the DWR Springville Office at 1115 N. Main St. in Springville. (Online comments must be submitted by May 11 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Northern Utah RAC meeting: May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Weber County Commission Chambers at 2380 Washington Blvd. #240 in Ogden. (Online comments must be submitted by May 11 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Southern Utah RAC meeting: May 23 at 6 p.m. at the DNR Richfield City Complex at 2031 Industrial Park Road in Richfield. (Online comments must be submitted by May 18 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main St. in Green River. (Online comments must be submitted by May 18 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the DWR Vernal Office at 318 N. Vernal Ave. in Vernal. (Online comments must be submitted by May 18 at 11:59 p.m.)
  • Utah Wildlife Board meeting: June 8 at 9 a.m. at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way in Farmington. (Online comments must be submitted by May 30 at 11:59 p.m.)
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