Archives: SFW In Action
Meet SFW’s newest additions, some 2,000 two-day-old chukar chicks. These little babies are currently being raised by SFW members at brood facilities in Richfield County. When mature this fall, the birds will be released on public lands in Paiute, Garfield and Sevier Counties. These chukar chicks, a large portion of the brood facilities, and the costs to raise the birds are funded with $5 application fee funds that were generated during the 2017 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo (www.huntexpo.com).
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.
President Trump signed an Antiquities Act Executive Order this morning demanding a review of national monuments.
Today during a White House press conference, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the designation of tens of millions of acres of land as “national monuments”. This action could restore multiple use protections on millions of acres of lands in Utah and other states, including the Grand Staircase and Bears Ears national monuments of southern Utah.
President Trump made it clear that the power was coming back to the local people and communities. Secretary Zinke, who is an avid Sportsmen, was at the signing. Today’s event will lead to a visit from Secretary Zinke to Utah to tour the national monuments. Zinke promises to provide a preliminary review with a specific recommendation on the Bears Ears within 45 days.
Utah’s entire delegation was also present during the signing, including U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, Governor Gary Herbert, Congressmen Chris Stewart and Rob Bishop also attended. Senator Hatch, particularly, was singled out by President Trump for “his relentless efforts to restore power to the people”.
Don Peay SFW founder said, “The Western United States land and wildlife management is all about politics, public laws and policies. In our collective efforts we have given the small towns and sportsmen and ranchers a voice – a voice now being heard even in the White House.”
Tony Chavira and Tiffany Kimmerle, Co-Chairmen of SFW’s San Juan County Chapter, have spent their lives living, working and recreating throughout southern Utah. Both are encouraged by the action and commented, “It’s the local communities, ranchers and residents of San Juan and Kane counties that are affected most by the designation of these national monuments but our voices of concern over it have scarcely been heard. It is so gratifying to know we have a president who cares enough to listen to reason and address the federal government overreach that these monuments represent.”
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the president to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict how the lands can be used. Far too often, national monuments turn into National Parks, which eliminates hunting opportunities.
The language in President Trump’s order reads:
“The Antiquities Act Executive Order directs the Department of the Interior to review prior monument designations and suggest legislative changes or modifications to the monument proclamations,” the order’s language says.
SFW expects more exciting announcements from Washington in the coming weeks that will benefit sportsmen and wildlife in substantial ways.
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The Bountiful Urban Deer Translocation Project is headed by Channing Howard, Urban Wildlife Biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. SFW is proud to have been the organization that proposed and initiated this pioneering project that is proving that translocating mule deer can be viable and indeed is successful. Many thanks to the SFW Beaver Utah Chapter for their foresight and initiative. SFW proudly stands at the DWR’s side and with its partner wildlife conservation organizations and higher education institutions as mule deer translocation research continues breaking new ground in wildlife management.
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Project background/goals: Mule deer populations have been under population objectives throughout much of Utah but in contrast, numbers have increased in urban and suburban areas. These resident urban deer create conflicts with humans including damaging landscaping and gardens, causing deer-vehicle collisions and are considered a general nuisance. Traditional urban deer management has included special public hunts or sharpshooters; however, these methods often have limited use within high-density municipalities due to firearm ordinances and perceptions about safety. As a result, Utah DWR, with USU, SFW and MDF, initiated a trap and translocate project to determine its efficacy as a potential management tool to reduce urban herds while supplementing declining wild herds.
Project goals include determining annual survival rate for deer at each release site and comparing with other translocation and survival studies; administering a survey questionnaire to determine public perceptions of urban deer pre-and post-treatment; assess the change in deer-vehicle collisions in the city; calculate the cost per deer using varied capture methods and assess body condition of captured urban deer. Cause of death will not be studied in this project, but other studies results will be taken into consideration.
November 13, 2014 – March 4, 2015
DWR with the help of SFW and its member volunteers trapped and relocated 211 mule deer from Bountiful, Utah.
• 100 adults fitted with radio collars (77 females) or ear tag transmitters (23 bucks)
– Trap site mortality 1.9% (4); transport mortality 0%
• Big Wash, Duchesne County
– 99 deer released in Big Wash
– 48 radio marked deer
• Raft River Mountains, Box Elder County
– 94 deer released in Raft River Mountains
– 52 radio marked deer
• East Canyon WMA, Morgan County (Not part of survival study)
– 14 deer released in East Canyon WMA
December 1, 2015 – February 18, 2016
DWR with the help of SFW and its member volunteers trapped and relocated 265 mule deer from Bountiful, Utah.
• 117 adults fitted with radio collars (77 does) or ear tag transmitters (23 males)
– Trap site mortality 2.6% (7); transport mortality 0.4% (1)
• Big Wash, Duchesne County
– 94 deer released in Big Wash
– 58 radio marked deer
• Raft River Mountains, Box Elder County
– 93 deer released in Raft River Mountains
– 59 radio marked deer
• Manti, Emery County (Not part of survival study)
– 69 deer released on the Manti
– 59 radio marked deer (10 with 3-month transmitters)
• East Canyon WMA, Morgan County (Not part of survival study)
– 2 deer released in East Canyon WMA (no radios)
• Raft River
– Deer have migrated back to winter range including some that summered in Idaho
– No tagged or radio collared deer reported harvested this year
• Big Wash
– Deer also making large movements and have been found north along Starvation Reservoir and just south of Roosevelt and west near Strawberry Reservoir
– Report of two deer harvested by a hunters near Roosevelt, including a doe that was in the extended archery area
• Deer will continue to be monitored up to two years post release
Sample Sizes and Fates for Bountiful Captures
Public Perception Survey
• Cross-sectional and longitudinal telephone survey of general attitudes towards deer, perceived problems and beliefs about management options
• 14 questions, added 15th in 2016 – Season of deer problems
• December 2014 – Pre-Translocation Survey
– 488 completed surveys
• November 2016 – Post-Translocation Survey
– 707 completed surveys
– 245 resampled
– 462 new respondents
• Damage to gardens and landscaping and vehicle collisions were viewed as the most serious problems caused by the deer.
• The majority of residents across sample groups believed trap and relocation was the most acceptable management solution.
• Compared to 2014, respondents to the 2016 survey provided weaker support for statements that there are too many deer in the city and that management action must be taken.
• Created a template for cities to use to estimate costs
• Cost per deer most dependent on some fixed costs (ex: radio collars) and variable costs (ex: number of personnel and pay rate, miles to release site)
• First cost estimates for the Bountiful project FY2015 and FY2016
– $242-282 per deer
11-Month Apparent Survival Estimates for RR & BW Combined
• Adult females from all years tracking other Utah wild deer translocation projects
• Male survival lower possibly due to:
– Small sample size
– Different energetic needs
– Hunting allowed in study areas
Other Interesting Facts:
• All translocated urban deer tested for CWD returned negative results for all capture years and locations
– 214 CWD samples taken, no positives
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End of 2017 Season Update
SFW purchased 2,100 Chukars chicks in 2016 and raised them to adults. Several hundred were recently released in Sevier County and surrounding areas. Some were released in Black Canyon, some at Manning Creek near the Elbow T Ranch southeast of Marysvale, and others at a site in the Breaks on Poverty Flat southwest of Monroe, Utah. More birds will be released ahead of the statewide youth pheasant, waterfowl and pheasant hunt day September 17th. Many thanks to Paul Niemeyer, DeLoss Christensen, Jake Albrecht and the SFW Sevier County Chapter team for all of their hard work with SFW’s Chukar and Pheasant programs.
Watch a video of the release: sfw-chukar-release_2
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.
SFW’s Beaver Chapter and Phone Skope helped open a new chapter in the life a young hunter and friend. A dirt bike racing accident broke Luke Carter’s back and took the use of his legs. SFW and Phone Skope stepped up with a West Desert Antelope Hunt to help open a new chapter in Luke’s life. Watch the Phone Skope video and see.
Watch a video clip of Utah Governor Herbert’s address about the Expo here.