By Presidential Executive Order, requested by the Utah Legislature and secured by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is now in Utah for four days to tour the Grand Staircase and Bears Ears Monuments.
Sunday night, Sec. Zinke held a 30-minute private meeting with SFW Founder Don Peay to learn of the significant wildlife conservation efforts, status of wildlife populations, and hunting opportunities found in this incredible 3.2 million acres of land. Sec. Zinke is himself an avid hunter from Montana.
Twenty-five years ago, these areas were nearly void of all wildlife, and the two deer units – the San Juan and Paunsaugunt deer herds – were closed to hunting due to the extremely low buck deer populations found there. Today these units are teaming with incredible herds of elk, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, cougar, bear, antelope, wild turkey and other species. These results are attributed directly to the sportsmen conservation funding, sacrifices and investments of hunters-conservationists and professional work done by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Bureau of Land Management partners.
There are 51,007 hunters who apply for hunts each year in these two units. That generates $29 million in economic activity, including $10 million of wildlife resources, and millions more for private landowners and conservation activities that keep these lands and herds healthy.
During a dinner at the Utah State Capital with state business and political leaders, Governor Herbert specifically recognized the efforts of SFW in helping the state restore and manage these species. No other conservation group was mentioned.
The great concern for all sportsmen is this: Every Utah National Park started out as a Monument, and the is NO HUNTING in National Parks.
Kevin Pritchett Vice Chair of the SFW Board said this: “These areas are very special to us, we have a lot of on-the-ground conservation efforts, and they are places where our children and many of our friends’ children bagged their first wild turkey.”
Chris Carling SFW VP of Marketing added, “My dad flew F-15 fighter jets for the US Air Force. However, one of the highlights of his life was bagging a 408-inch bugging bull elk with all of his sons and grandsons at his side in the Bears Ears area.”
SFW President Troy Justensen said, “The Paunsaugunt deer herd is one of the best herds in the world, and what happens in the Grand Staircase has dramatic impacts on that deer herd and hunting on the Paunsaugunt.”
Randy Johnson, a Director of the Full Curl Society said, “Some of the best Desert Bighorn sheep herds and sheep hunting in the world are found within these monument Areas. They must be preserved as a hunting heritage for our children and grandchildren.”
Sec. Zinke also learned of Utah’s massive 1.5 million acre Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative, and Utah’s many innovative conservation programs that have lead to robust herds and world-class hunting opportunities for all.