Archives: SFW News
Two of the six Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Mark “Oz” Geist and John “Tig” Tiegen, joined SFW, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Hunts for the Brave on May 14th for a very special evening honoring America’s war veterans and remembering the truth behind the movie “13 Hours”.
It was incredible to hear first-hand about the challenges they faced the details of exactly how Ambassador Chris Stevens died and how they felt they could have saved him if they would have been given permission to go when it all started. Oz rehearsed the injuries he suffered in the battle and being on the roof that took the lives of two soldiers, He also replayed the emotion experienced in the aftermath.
These men were told to stand down by those in command while Americans were being killed. They ignored that command and fought for many lives, including their own. Oz and Tig are incredible men, true patriots and great American heroes. The unmatched scenery of the South Wasatch Back from the beautiful home of Tom Mower made the perfect setting for an unforgettable event.
A Message to SFW from UDWR Big Game Program Coordinator Justin M Shannon
Here is a summary of the big game captures/transplants that took place this past fall/winter. Overall, we captured 1,276 big game animals this year.
I want to thank all of you who helped with the captures. Many of you contributed time, money, and efforts to make these captures happen, and we appreciate it. There is a lot of momentum in Utah’s big game program right now, and I believe it is because of the strong partnerships we have with sportsmen and our great biologists. I also want to thank Kent Hersey for taking the lead on organizing these projects, Brock and Randy from BYU for all the great research they are doing, Bill Bates and our Director’s Office for their continued support, and the project leaders and safety officers for carrying out the captures in a safe and professional manner.
This radio collared bighorn ewe was photographed near Moab, Utah in Arches National Park. Photo by Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Bighorn Sheep – 142 animals
Disease profiling and monitoring
Zion – 16 animals
San Juan – 18 animals
Dirty Devil – 19 animals
Stansbury – 21 animals
Avintaquin – 7 animals
12 sheep were transplanted from Zion to Pine Valley
49 sheep were transplanted from Antelope Island to Oak Creek
Mountain Goats – 21 animals were transplanted from Willard Peak to Mt Dutton
Bison – 15 bison were captured and disease tested on the Book Cliffs
Elk – 259 animals
189 elk (144 cows, 45 bulls) were captured as part of the Wasatch elk study
30 cow elk were captured in the Southern Region (10 on Southwest Desert, 10 on Panguitch Lake, and 10 on Beaver) to monitor movement patterns
6 collars were deployed on the San Juan Unit
34 animals from Park City to other portions of the Wasatch unit
Deer – 839 animals
Survival monitoring – 548
Pine Valley (40 does and 20 fawns in December, 23 does in March)
Wasatch/Manti (40 does and 20 fawns in December, 21 does in March)
Oquirrh-Stansbury (29 does and 20 fawns in December, 21 does in March)
Cache (40 does and 20 fawns in December, 21 does in March)
South Slope (21 does and 20 fawns in December, 13 does in March)
San Juan (41 does and 20 fawns in December, 26 does in March)
Monroe (30 does and 20 fawns in December, 20 does in March)
Vernon (22 does captured to monitor migration patterns)
Urban deer – 291 animals
94 animals from Bountiful to Big Wash
93 animals from Bountiful to Raft River
69 animals from Bountiful to the southeast Manti
2 animals from Bountiful to East Canyon WMA
32 animals from Herriman to southeast Manti
1 animal from Herriman to East Canyon WMA
Justin M Shannon
Big Game Program Coordinator
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
One of SFW’s most defining characteristics – an aspect that so clearly sets SFW apart from all other wildlife conservation organizations – is that SFW’s mission works to benefit not just a single species but multiple big game species across our Utah landscapes. Many of the projects SFW has funded and provided volunteers for in recent years are showing significant, measurable and important results for deer, elk, moose, bighorns, mountain goats, bison and other species.
Habitat improvement is one of SFW’s primary areas of focus and investment. Each year as much as $1.2 million in SFW conservation funds are spent on projects across the state of Utah. Everything from reseeding burned habitat and removing pinion-juniper to chaining of unproductive lands and planting sagebrush seedlings is on the list. Conservation funding isn’t the only thing SFW puts on the ground. SFW members also show up with gloves, shovels, machinery and other materials volunteering time and resources to make a difference for big game.
Predator control of coyotes and cougars in the state spearheaded by SFW is yielding impressive results, specifically for Mule deer and Bighorn sheep. Mule deer fawn survival is booming on many units where coyote control efforts have been unleashed over the past five years. Wild sheep transplants are successful only when cougars are managed to levels that allow wild sheep to flourish in new areas.
SFW’s Pheasant Program, which is now in its fourth year, is helping address a 25-year downward trend in Utah’s declining pheasant populations. SFW has secured ongoing funding for raising and releasing tens of thousands of pheasants for public hunters on WMA and Walk-In-Access properties in the several regions of the state. Not only are new young hunters now enjoying the opportunity to see and shoot pheasants again, Utah’s wild bird populations are being augmented thanks to our members’ efforts and SFW’s financial support.
One of the most high profile of SFW’s projects has been the ground-breaking and now proven successful deer transplants conducted first on the Parowan Front in southern Utah and currently in northern Utah’s Wasatch Front residential communities. Interest in capturing and transplanting overpopulating mule deer started among SFW’s Beaver and Iron county chapter leadership nearly 10 years ago. Despite negativity and resistance among many, we proudly stamp our mark on this uniquely SFW project that is now being duplicated in a few neighboring states.The Utah Moose Health and Reproduction Study conducted by USU Graduate Student Joel Ruprecht is yet another of the diverse projects SFW is solidly behind. The study has been ongoing for the past four years and is funded and supported by SFW and its membership. This project has been the key in determining causes for recent declines in the North Slope Uintas and Wasatch Mountains moose populations. SFW has made a difference by ensuring the best science and biology is being applied in efforts to correct the decline.
Utah’s exploding Bighorn sheep populations would not be what they are today without SFW and our partner organization Utah Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (UFNAWS). Major investments in capture/transplants, paying for Bighorn sheep research and habitat studies, building water catchments as well as purchasing wild sheep from other western states, all with SFW conservation funds, has been the critical component to Utah’s status as the state with the most aggressive and successful wild sheep program in west.
As we look back on 2015 as the best deer hunt in recent memory, and with additional mountain goat and wild sheep populations established, as well as the hundreds of thousands of acres of improved and restored habitat in Utah, we do so knowing the significant role SFW and its members have played in these successes. It has taken more than a decade of investment, sacrifice and leadership to produce results that Utah and those who hunt hear enjoy. Now let’s keep up the fight and continue building a bright future for hunters and our wildlife.