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DWR recommends changes for 2017-18 waterfowl hunt

FILE: Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending several changes for the 2017-18 waterfowl hunt.
FILE: Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending several changes for the 2017-18 waterfowl hunt.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending several changes for the 2017–18 waterfowl hunt.

Among the proposed changes are splitting Utah into two duck hunting zones, reducing the number of pintail ducks hunters can take and a establishing a waterfowl rest area at the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area.

Biologists say that over the past several years, warm weather in northern Utah has kept birds from migrating to southern Utah during the early part of the season. The two hunting zones — with different start and end times — should provide hunters in southern Utah with better hunting. The hunt in the northern zone would run Oct. 7 through Jan. 20, and the hunt in the southern zone would run Oct. 14 through Jan. 27.

As to reducing the number of pintails hunters can take, biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have found 14 percent fewer pintail ducks during surveys flown over North American breeding and nesting areas this past spring than they did during surveys in spring 2015. To give pintails more protection, DWR biologists are recommending that hunters be allowed to take only one pintail a day rather than two.

Another proposed change aims to improve hunting at the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area by establishing a waterfowl rest area west of Hooper. Biologists say the area, which would be closed to hunting, would keep birds in an area longer.

Hunters are encouraged to share their thoughts about the proposed changes during a series of Regional Advisory Council meetings. The meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

• Tuesday, Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m., Springville Civic Center, 110 S. Main, Springville

• Wednesday, Dec. 7, 6 p.m., Brigham City Community Center, 24 N. 300 West, Brigham City

• Tuesday, Dec. 13, 5 p.m., Sevier School District office, 180 E. 600 North, Richfield

• Wednesday, Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m., John Wesley Powell Museum,

1765 E. Main, Green River

• Thursday, Dec. 15, 6:30 p.m., DWR office, 318 N. Vernal Ave., Vernal

Comments can also be made to council members via email. The addresses can be found online at wildlife.utah.gov/board-rac.html.

Council chairmen will then share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, to approve rules for Utah's 2017-18 hunt.