Archives: SFW News
* * * * A PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE UTAH DIVISION OF WILDLIFE RESOURCES * * * *
Salt Lake City — Utah’s wildlife received a $1.3 million gift recently. The gift came courtesy of Utah’s conservation permit program. Here’s how the program works:
- The Division of Wildlife Resources allocates a small number of big game, black bear, cougar and turkey hunting permits to conservation organizations in Utah.
- The groups auction the permits at their yearly banquets.
- After auctioning the permits, at least 90 percent of the money the groups raise must be used on DWR-approved projects that benefit Utah’s wildlife.
Seven groups received conservation permits in 2011: Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Utah Bowman’s Association.
On April 11, representatives from the seven groups met with DWR biologists to decide which projects the money would be used to fund. A total of 66 projects received more than $1.3 million in funding.
Mike Canning, Habitat Section chief for the DWR, says allowing these groups to auction the permits is a windfall for Utah’s wildlife. “The amount of money that ends up going into on-the-ground work to help wildlife across Utah is astounding,” he says.
Canning gives some examples of how conservation permit funds are used:
- Much of the money the conservation permit program generates each year funds habitat projects that are part of Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative.
The initiative started in 2005. Since it began, more than $76 million has been used to restore more than 778,000 acres of wildlife habitat across the state.
The conservation permit program provided more than $5.4 million of the $76 million.
“Our goal is to restore at least 100,000 acres a year so we’re providing Utah’s wildlife with the food, cover and other habitat items the wildlife need,” Canning says.
- To transplant bighorn sheep.
- To survey Utah’s elk herds from the air.
- To conduct research projects, such as determining why the growth of Utah’s moose population has slowed in recent years.
- To build more water collection devices called “guzzlers.”
- Guzzlers provide additional water to wildlife species in some of Utah’s driest areas.
- To learn more about the best ways to construct wildlife-crossing structures. These structures are vital in helping deer and other wildlife safely cross some of Utah’s most heavily traveled roads.
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PHOTOS – 15 photos to accompany this story are available at http://huntdatabase.com/utah/newsphotos/index.php?gazpart=show&gazgal=226.
Contact: Mark Hadley, DWR Relations with the Public Specialist (801) 538-4737
(April 10, 2012 Salt Lake City) – Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife was founded nearly 20 years ago during a time of great challenge to hunting in the state of Utah. Since that time, thousands of unpaid volunteers of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife have repeatedly risen to address challenges to wildlife in Utah and across the Western United States. As a result, the ability to enjoy and pursue many species of wildlife in Utah has grown. Not only has a tremendous amount been accomplished through these collective efforts, but pragmatic solutions are also being implemented to address new challenges to wildlife, hunting and our outdoor heritage.
Throughout its history, a central goal has driven the efforts of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife: To secure and enhance abundant wildlife populations not only across Utah and the West, but also to ensure a continued legacy of hunting in America. These efforts have been backed by generous donations both large and small from passionate sportsmen from Utah and across the country. Tens of thousands of service hours and millions of dollars have been invested by volunteers and donors of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife to ensure that wild places and wild things will exist now and for future generations.
Given Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife’s dedicated efforts to tackle some of the most difficult challenges to our right to hunt and fish, it is no surprise that opposition to our efforts have arisen. Recently, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, and its founder Don Peay, have come under some criticism. Many of these critics, rather than offering solutions for wildlife, have instead attempted to misconstrue and distort the record of Mr. Peay and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife. We would caution well-meaning sportsmen from buying into hearsay, out-of-context communications or other attacks that appear intended to mislead and cloud the actual issues at hand. We apologize to the extent that a mis-quote or misstatement may have contributed to any confusion. We encourage sportsmen to consider our 20-year record of fighting for abundant wildlife as a true measure of our commitment to wildlife and hunting.
Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife remains committed to implementing long-term solutions for the challenges faced by both hunters as well as wildlife. While opinions over preferred policy alternatives may differ, the record of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in advocating habitat restoration, responsible predator management and protection of wildlife populations is public and plain. From the beginning, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife has been unwavering in its commitment to the proven effectiveness of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, and will continue to do so despite what critics may infer to the contrary. We welcome open discourse and would invite all concerned sportsmen to not only join us in conversation, but to bring a pair of gloves and possibly a shovel to work together with us for the common good of wildlife and the legacy of sportsmen in Utah and across the West. We continue to encourage all sportsmen to join us and the passionate volunteers of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife who are dedicated to providing real and proven solutions for wildlife.
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Big Dollars for Predator Control in Utah
There has been a tremendous amount of interest in two bills from Utah’s legislature aimed at using sportsmen and public/private partnerships aimed to increase mule deer fawn survival. Theses two forward thinking bills, S.B. 87 and S.B. 245 provide more than $1 Million new dollars for funding predator control in the state of Utah. Last month, both bills were signed by Governor Gary Herbert in a historic ceremony at Hoyt archery’s worldwide headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
S.B. 87 entitled, “Predator Control Funding,” and sponsored by Senator Hinkins places a $5 dollar surcharge on big game tags to raise money for coyote removal by trappers and hunters. It is estimated that this S.B. 87 surcharge will raise an additional $500,000-600,000 for predator control. The other bill, S.B. 245, entitled “Mule Deer Protection Act” and sponsored by Senator Okerlund provides a $750,000 state general fund match to the sportsmens’ dollars provided by S.B. 87.
$500,000 of the S.B. 245 dollars will go to Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) and $250,000 will go to Wildlife Services to help fund a new helicopter for predator control work aimed at fixing Utah’s Mule Deer herds. Collectively, these two bills provide approximately $1 million dollars of ongoing funding to fix mule deer populations in Utah. Some of this funding will also be directed to USDA Wildlife Services to augment existing removal efforts on mule deer fawning grounds.
Bounties in Utah
Currently 12 of 29 Utah counties provide bounties to private individuals for coyote removal. These bounties are typically $20 or $25 dollars per coyote and are administered in various ways in the different counties. Our suggestion to Utah DWR was that coyote bounties be increased to $50 dollars and be implemented statewide in a consistent fashion to incentivize greater efforts by hunters and trappers to take more coyotes, particularly in areas where predator control can increase fawn survival and otherwise lead to mule deer population rebounds. Remember, these bills are directed at recovering Utah’s mule deer.
A quick reminder of an obvious, but important, aspect of this program: for this effort to be effective, these dollars must be spent on Utah coyotes. If you harvest a coyote in Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Wyoming or elsewhere, do not bring it to Utah for incentive dollars. Not only is this unethical and probably illegal, it will undermine the goal of increasing fawn survival in Utah. This type of behavior could even put future funding for this effort at risk by over reporting coyote harvest while doing nothing to increase fawn survival in Utah. Payment for out-of-state coyotes would also deplete money for much needed increases in harvest of Utah coyotes. It will be the responsibility of concerned sportsmen in Utah to not only make sure these dollars are utilized, but to ensure that these dollars are used to fix Utah’s mule deer problem.
Progress on Program Development
Since the signing of these bills, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Big Game Forever have been working with Utah DWR on the best way to use these dollars to fix Mule Deer. DWR is the statutory designee of finalizing and implementing these programs consistent with the legislative intent of these bills. At this point, we still do not have any finalized proposals by DWR, but a tremendous amount of progress has been made regarding various aspects of these programs. While it appears that some of the likely proposals from DWR may be a bit different from what we originally expected, the conversations with DWR remain focused on improving fawn survival and overall mule deer populations.
Predator Control Coordination
Utah DWR is also exploring the possibility of employing two full-time coyote removal specialists to help administer these programs and dollars for maximum impact for mule deer. These individuals would be tasked with focusing full-time on finding ways to use predator control to increase mule deer fawn survival and overall population growth. Additionally, the specialists would be tasked with helping direct the effort of sportsmen to provide the greatest value to mule deer recovery. These specialists would also work to ensure that trouble areas are being targeted every year and to minimize overlap with the efforts of federal wildlife services. It should be noted that in some instances, collaborative efforts with federal wildlife services may prove to provide the most dramatic increases in fawn survival.
We strongly feel that the focus should remain on the goal of Mule Deer Recovery by utilizing the new and existing coyote removal dollars to: (1) ensure maximum benefit for Utah’s Mule Deer; and (2) incentivize sportsmen to spend more time removing coyotes in key areas across Utah to fix Utah’s deer herd. After several meetings with the Division of Wildlife Resources, it appears that there are several ways in which this program could be implemented to allow sportsmen to participate in the incentives to remove Utah coyotes. The total incentive program dollars may also be broken down into different categories to provide some flexibility to accomplish the goal of recovering mule deer.
We are open to some of these ideas, such as targeted bounties, but are concerned about other ideas. We should also note that Utah DWR is leaning away from providing a $50 bounty in areas that hold few mule deer, such as, but not limited to, the west desert. There will likely be some costs and overhead to implement these incentive efforts. We feel strongly that it is important that most of the new and existing dollars be utilized for coyote removal by sportsmen and USDA wildlife services, rather than being used for program or other non-incentive costs. To do otherwise would be a departure from the legislative justification for providing these new dollars for coyote removal.
The first of the new coyote control incentive money will be appropriated in July of 2012. The remainder will be available in 2013. Although the money will be appropriated, it is still unclear when coyote removal dollars will be available for sportsmen. As Utah DWR works to develop the recommendations of how this incentive money will be utilized, we ask each of you to watch for developments as they occur over the next few months. We are encouraging significant sportsmen input and involvement before any recommendations are finalized. The good news is that these dollars are available every year so long as no further changes are made by the Utah legislature. We can expect that this program will be modified and refined over time as lessons are learned in order to maximize mule deer population recovery efforts in Utah.
We are not ready to give up on Utah’s mule deer. It is time to once again have over 400,000 mule deer in the state of Utah. Not only is this a sustainable minimum population goal, but 400,000 mule deer will allow for more real hunting opportunity for families and more big bucks, even in general season areas. We owe it to Utah’s mule deer. We owe it to our children, grandchildren and the future of wildlife conservation in Utah.