DWR recommends waterfowl hunting rules for 2018–2019 season

Utah's waterfowl hunting season just started, but biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are already formulating ideas for the 2018–2019 hunt.

This season, you can take only one pintail duck a day in Utah. Starting next season, you might be able to take two.

One idea is to allow hunters to keep more pintail ducks. This season, hunters may take only one pintail a day. Starting with the 2018–2019 season, hunters might be allowed to keep two pintails a day.

Biologists are also recommending two season date changes, one for the light goose hunt in Millard County and one for the sandhill crane hunt in Uintah County.

Learn more, share your ideas

By Oct. 25, all of the biologists' waterfowl hunting recommendations should be available online. After you've reviewed the ideas, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.

RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Nov. 30 to approve rules for Utah's 2018 - 2019 waterfowl hunt.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

Email

You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available online.

The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.

Two pintails a day

North America's pintail duck population has experienced plenty of ups and downs over the past 30 years. This season, Utah hunters may take only one pintail a day. Next season, though, biologists would like to increase the limit to two pintails a day.

"Pintails did pretty well this past nesting season," says Blair Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the DWR. "Hopefully, good nesting this past spring, coupled with high survival rates this winter, will put plenty of pintails on the nesting and breeding grounds during spring 2018. Starting next fall, we're comfortable allowing hunters to take two pintails a day."

Hunting light geese in Millard County

Managing the light goose hunt in Millard County is a juggling act. On one hand, biologists want to keep plenty of geese near Delta, where a popular wildlife viewing event — the Snow Goose Festival — happens every February. On the other hand, limiting hunting in the area allows geese to do more damage to farmers' fields.

This season, the light goose hunt in Millard County is closed from Feb. 5–28. Next season, biologists recommend closing it from Feb. 15–28.

"We think this is a good compromise," Stringham says. "The festival usually happens at the end of February, so stopping the hunt on Feb. 15 should keep plenty of birds in the area. At the same time, allowing hunting in early February should reduce the amount of damage geese are doing to farmer's fields and their newly planted crops."

Hunting sandhill cranes in Uintah County

Biologists are also recommending a longer sandhill crane hunt in Uintah County. Currently, the hunt in the county happens mostly in October. For the 2018–2019 season, biologists recommend holding it in October and November.

"Uintah County is a popular place for cranes to stop during their migration south in the fall," Stringham says. "The number of cranes is increasing, and more and more damage is being done to crops in the area. Giving hunters more time to hunt in the fall should put more pressure on the cranes. The added pressure should reduce the agricultural damage cranes do before they migrate out of the area."