|The Utah Wildlife Board did not approve a Sept. 1 archery-only start to Utah's forest grouse season after hearing concerns about the effects an early September start might have on the state's forest grouse populations.
Requiring sage grouse hunters to obtain a free hunting permit, and a two-year upland game proclamation, were among upland game hunting items the board did approve at its meeting June 14 in Heber City.
Rules approved by the board may be found in the 2000 - 2001 Utah Upland Game Proclamation, which should be available by mid-July.
A recommendation for an archery-only Sept. 1 start to Utah's forest grouse, cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare seasons originated with big game archery hunters. These hunters wanted a chance to harvest these species while afield during early September big game archery seasons.
Three of Utah's five citizen Regional Advisory Councils supported the proposal. The remaining RACs opposed it, as did members of Utah's Upland Game Advisory Council.
A possible increase in the number of forest (blue and ruffed) grouse hens taken was among concerns presented to board members.
Forest grouse chicks are reluctant to leave their mothers during early September. This makes it easier for hunters to take limits and increases the chances that hens will be killed.
Forest grouse populations along the Wasatch Front were of special concern, as there are many roads that provide easy access to prime forest grouse areas.
Citing law enforcement concerns, the board also did not approve a recommendation for an archery-only Sept. 1 start to Utah's cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare seasons. Instead, the board approved a Sept. 9 start to Utah's forest grouse season. The state's cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare seasons will begin Sept. 16.
To collect better data about sage grouse hunting in Utah, the board also approved a requirement that sage grouse hunters obtain a free hunting permit this year. The permit system will provide biologists with the names of sage grouse hunters they can contact to learn about areas hunted, days spent hunting and the number of grouse taken, said Dean Mitchell, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
Permits will be available by visiting, writing to or calling a Division office, visiting the Division's Internet web site, or mailing a permit request form found in the upland game proclamation.
The board also eliminated a drawing for sharp-tailed grouse permits. Hunters will still be required to obtain one of 663 two-bird permits, but they will be available at Division offices, the Division's Internet web site, or by mailing in a request form from the proclamation.
Like the sage grouse permits, the free sharp-tailed grouse permits provide Division biologists with the names of hunters they can contact, to obtain information about their hunts.
Other upland game hunting items approved by the board included the following:
Utah now has a two-year upland game proclamation. Rules approved by the board June 14 are for Utah's 2000 - 2001, and 2001 - 2002 seasons. New upland game rules will not be approved by the board until the summer of 2002, unless situations arise that must be addressed before then.
A new youth pheasant hunt. The hunt will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 on private land in Emery County. A total of 60 youth hunters will participate. Applications to participate will be available in the upland game proclamation. The Emery County hunt brings to five the number of youth upland game hunts that will be held in Utah this fall.
For more information, call the nearest Division office, or the Division's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.
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