Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Join the Great Backyard Bird Count February 12-15

January 26, 2010—Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2010. Participants in the free event will join tens of thousands of volunteers counting birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.
Each checklist submitted by these "citizen scientists" helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology , the National Audubon Society, and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

“Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds—all at the same time," said Audubon Education Vice President, Judy Braus. "Even if you can identify a few species you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities.”

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at http://www.birdcount.org/ . One 2009 participant said, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!”

“The GBBC is a perfect first step toward the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change,” said Janis Dickinson, Director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab. “Winter is such a vulnerable period for birds, so winter bird distributions are likely to be very sensitive to change. There is only one way—citizen science—to gather data on private lands where people live and the GBBC has been doing this across the continent for many years. GBBC has enormous potential both as an early warning system and in capturing and engaging people in more intensive sampling of birds across the landscape.”

Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2009 GBBC data highlighted a huge southern invasion of Pine Siskins across much of the eastern United States. Participants counted 279,469 Pine Siskins on 18,528 checklists, as compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005. Failure of seed crops farther north caused the siskins to move south to find their favorite food.

On the http://www.birdcount.org/  website, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators. Participants may also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.

In 2010, Bird Studies Canada (BSC) joins the GBBC as the program’s Canadian partner. “Bird Studies Canada is delighted to be the Canadian partner for this extremely valuable program,” said George Finney, President of BSC. “Participating in the GBBC is an excellent way for Canadians to reconnect with their love of nature and birds.”

For more information about the GBBC, visit the website at www.birdcount.org. Or contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473, gbbc@cornell.edu , or Audubon at (202) 861-2242 ext. 3050, citizenscience@audubon.org . In Canada, participants may contact Bird Studies Canada at 1-888-448-2473 ext. 134 or gbbc@birdscanada.org .

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by generous support from Wild Birds Unlimited.

Images by 2009 GBBC participants: Black-capped Chickadee by Rodney Smith, WA; Bird watcher at window by Terie Rawn, NY; Pine Siskins by Steve Gillespie, WV.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

DWR Captures 40 Bison near Lake Powell

Bullfrog -- Forty bison will soon have a new home in northeastern Utah.

The Division of Wildlife Resources captured the bison on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 on the Henry Mountains in southeastern Utah.

Many Utahns don’t realize that a free-ranging herd of bison occupies 240 square miles of open country on the northwest side of Lake Powell.

Bison in the Henry Mountains
The Henry Mountains herd began in 1941, when the Utah Department of Fish and Game trucked three bulls and 15 cows from Yellowstone National Park to the Henry Mountains. That small herd of 18 animals has grown to more than 300 bison today. The herd continues to provide Utah’s sportsmen with a unique hunting opportunity.

The bison that were captured on the Henry Mountains on Jan. 15 and 16 will join about 50 bison that already occupy the Book Cliffs in east-central Utah. This herd was established in 2008 and 2009 with 14 animals donated from the Ute Tribe and an additional 30 bison coming from the Henry Mountains. Calves have been born since then, which has added even more animals to the herd.

The 40 bison, which will be released in the Book Cliffs on Jan. 20, will bolster Utah’s newest bison herd.

An aerial rodeo!
Capturing and moving a buffalo is extremely risky. To try and minimize the danger, the DWR decided to capture only calves, cows and yearling bulls. These animals weigh between 300 and 800 pounds.

Leading Edge Aviation, a company that specializes in capturing wildlife, was contracted to accomplish the aerial rodeo work!

Capturing the bison
The DWR developed a capture plan that involved the use of two aircraft—a fixed wing aircraft with DWR spotters in it, and a helicopter capture craft operated by Leading Edge Aviation. The spotters kept track of the bison herd from the air, while the capture craft concentrated entirely on the rodeo show.

Once the spotters spotted the bison, they let the capture crew know where the animals were. The helicopter then closed in and singled out one bison. That animal was cut out from the herd, and a net from a specially designed rifle was fired over it.

Once the net landed on the animal, the net entangled the bison and it dropped to the ground. At that point, crewmen called “muggers” jumped from the chopper and blindfolded and hobbled the immobilized animal.

The muggers then rolled the animal into a carry bag. Within seconds of rolling the bison into the bag, the chopper dropped a cable to the muggers, and they attached the cable to the bag. The helicopter then slung the bison through the air to a crew waiting on the ground.

The ground crew consisted of DWR personnel. The crew was positioned about 10 air miles from the capture location, on one of only a few roads that access the southeast portion of the Henry Mountains. (Known as the Burr Trail, this secondary road connects Bullfrog with Escalante.)

The ground crew’s job was to transfer the slung bison into a waiting horse trailer. Before placing the bison in the trailer, the crew performed health checks and drew blood samples for laboratory testing.

After the horse trailer was fully loaded with bison, the captured animals were driven to Antelope Island State Park. They’ll stay in quarantine at the park until blood tests certify that they are free of disease.

After an “all clear!” from the state veterinarian, the bison will finish their trip to the Book Cliffs on Jan. 20.

See Bald Eagles Feb. 6 and Feb. 13

Photo Courtesy Brent Stettler, DWR

If you’ve ever seen a bald eagle in the wild, you know it’s an experience that can take your breath away. In February, you’ll have two chances to not only see bald eagles, but to learn more about them. The Division of Wildlife Resources is holding its annual Utah Bald Eagle Day.

The event will be held on two different Saturdays. On Feb. 6, eagle viewing will take place at sites in central and southwestern Utah. On the following Saturday, Feb. 13, Utah Bald Eagle Day will be celebrated at three sites—two in northern Utah and one in northeastern Utah.

There is no cost to attend Bald Eagle Day. Viewing times are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except at the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area site, where viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Feb. 6, you can view eagles at the following locations:
Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, located east of Nephi. If coming from the north, take I-15 and exit the freeway at the second Nephi exit (Exit 225). After exiting the freeway, turn east on SR-132 and travel about 10 miles. About 1 mile before the city of Fountain Green, a Bald Eagle Day sign will point you to an access road that leads to the hatchery.

Once you reach the hatchery, you’ll be given a driving map of the Sanpete Valley that highlights the best areas in the valley to view eagles. Literature, displays and bathroom facilities will also be available at the hatchery. If eagles are near the hatchery, Division of Wildlife Resources staff will set up spotting scopes so you can view them. Spotting scopes will also be set-up at a viewing location about one mile from the hatchery.

Rush Lake Ranch, located on the Minersville highway (SR-130) about 12 miles north of Cedar City.

On Feb. 13, viewing will take place at the following locations:

Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area (Compton’s Knoll), located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne. To reach the WMA, take Exit 365 off of I‑15 and travel west on SR-83 through Corinne. Stay on SR-83 until you get to 6800 W. (Iowa String). Travel north to 6800 N. Travel west on 6800 N. until you reach the Salt Creek WMA/Compton’s Knoll Watchable Wildlife site.

Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, located on the west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glover Lane (925 South).

In addition to seeing eagles at the WMA, you can also participate in activities that will be held at the Great Salt Lake Nature Center at the north end of the WMA. The activities include a bake sale and fun, hands-on activities for children. The activities—each centered around a bald eagle theme—will begin at 9 a.m. and run through most of the day. You can also see live birds of prey and watch a slideshow presented by HawkWatch International.

In addition to participating in the activities, you can learn more about becoming a volunteer at the WMA. Volunteers lead birding tours and help with other projects.
If you’re traveling north on I-15, coming from Salt Lake City and other areas south of Farmington:

To reach the WMA, travel north on I-15, and exit the freeway at Exit 325. Turn left on Park Lane and travel west. The road will angle to the south, and you’ll come to Clark Lane at the first traffic light. Turn right. Travel west to the first stop sign, which is at 1525 West, and turn left. Travel south to Glover Lane, and turn right. Travel west on Glover Lane for about two blocks until you come to 1700 W. Turn left on 1700 W. and travel south to the Great Salt Lake Nature Center. You can park in the parking lot.

If you’re traveling south on I-15, coming from Ogden and other areas north of Farmington:

To reach the WMA, travel south on I-15 and exit the freeway at Exit 325. Go to the stoplight and turn right on Park Lane. Travel south to the next light, which is at Clark Lane, and turn right. Travel west to the first stop sign, which is at 1525 West, and turn left. Travel south to Glover Lane, and turn right. Travel west on Glover Lane for about two blocks until you come to 1700 W. Turn left on 1700 W. and travel south to the Great Salt Lake Nature Center. You can park in the parking lot.

Split Mountain/Green River, located north of Jensen and below the Dinosaur Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument (DNM). To reach the site, drive north from Highway 40 in Jensen on the road (SR‑149) to the Dinosaur Quarry.

Your first stop should be at the staging area located just inside the DNM boundary. Displays and spotting scopes will be available at the staging area, and you might be able to see bald eagles and other raptors in the distance.

You can also see live birds close up! At least one live bird of prey—and maybe even as many as three—will be on display at the staging area.

From the staging area, biologists will direct you to other sites where you may have better views of eagles and other wildlife of interest. In past years, visitors have seen bald and golden eagles hunting and feeding, as well as prairie falcons, hawks, mule deer, river otters, pheasants, turkeys, sandhill cranes, porcupines, mergansers, Canada geese and other wildlife.

During your trip, you may also want to stop and visit the Dinosaur National Monument. The monument’s dinosaur quarry is closed, but you can see a few dinosaur bones at a temporary visitor center near the quarry. The visitor center also includes a small bookstore.

Get a close look
“We’ll set spotting scopes up at each viewing site so you can get a good look at the eagles,” says Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR. “Biologists and volunteers will also be on hand to help you spot the eagles and to answer any questions you have.”

Information about bald eagles, and wildlife watching and birding opportunities in Utah, will be available at each location. The materials will be available for free, or for a small cost.

The best time to attend
The best time to see eagles on Feb. 6 and Feb. 13 depends on two things.

If you want to attend during the warmest time of the day, attend late in the morning or early in the afternoon. “The warmer temperatures are especially important if you bring young children with you,” Walters says.

Late morning and early afternoon also provide the clearest times of the day to see the eagles.

If you want to see the greatest number of eagles, attend between 2 and 4 p.m. “In mid-afternoon, the eagles start flying to trees to roost for the night,” Walters says. “If you want to see the greatest number of eagles, mid to late afternoon is usually the best time to attend.”

Items to bring
If you attend Bald Eagle Day, dress in warm clothes and bring waterproof boots. Also, if you want to get pictures of the eagles, bring a telephoto lens.

“The eagles will be some distance from the viewing areas,” Walters says. “In the past, we’ve had photographers try and get close to the eagles. They ended up scaring the eagles away.”

Utah’s most popular viewing event
Walters started Bald Eagle Day in 1990 as a way to introduce people to Utah’s wildlife. “Bald Eagle Day was started to arouse people’s interest, whet their appetite and make them aware of the wildlife around them,” Walters says.

Since it began, Bald Eagle Day has become Utah’s most well attended, and one of its most enjoyed, wildlife-viewing events.

For more information about Bald Eagle Day, call Walters at (801) 538- 4771, or Division of Wildlife Resources offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal or Cedar City.

Duck-Drawing Time

Credit: USFWS

On your mark . . . Get set . . . Draw! Or paint or crayon. Children in grades K–12 are now preparing entries for the 2010 Junior Duck Stamp contest that combines science and art to teach students about waterfowl conservation. The competition is administered by the Service under the Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Act enacted by Congress in 1994.

Participants, grouped in four age categories, compete to create visually compelling and biologically accurate drawings or paintings of any of 46 native species of ducks, geese and swans. Students are encouraged to visit National Wildlife Refuges with their families or environmental education groups to observe or photograph waterfowl for their drawings and paintings.

The winning national entry is reproduced on one–inch by one–and–one–half–inch stamps sold by the U.S. Post Office and some National Wildlife Refuges. Sales of the $5 stamps help support environmental education programs and provide awards and scholarships for the students, teachers and schools participating in the program.

Credit: Rob MacDonald, USFWS

Each state or territory first selects winners and prizes vary. The "best in show" from each state or territory contest goes on to compete nationally. National winners will be selected April 23, 2010, at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The top three national winners earn cash prizes ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.

In most states, the submission deadline is March 15, 2010. The deadlines for a few specific states include North Carolina: January 18, 2010; South Carolina: January 30, 2010; and Arizona and Ohio: March 1, 2010.

K–12 students attending public, private, tribal or home schools in the United States and the U.S. Territories are eligible to enter as long as they are U.S. citizens, resident aliens, or nationals. U.S. citizens attending schools abroad may enter through their legal state of residence. For contest information and entry forms, visit: http://www.fws.gov/juniorduck/ .

Southern Utah Fishing Report

Photo Courtesy Big Fish Tackle

BAKER RESERVOIR: (January 07) You'll find thin ice with some open water near the inlet. The ice often thaws, and fishing can be productive for rainbows and a few browns.

BARKER RESERVOIRS (NORTH CREEK LAKES): (January 21) All of the lakes, except for Barker and Lower Barker reservoirs, are closed to fishing until April. Access is limited by snow, so there is very little pressure.

BEAVER MOUNTAIN LAKES: (January 21) Most lakes are accessible by snowmobile. Fishing pressure is light throughout the winter, with Little Reservoir and Kents Lake receiving the most pressure.

BEAVER RIVER, LOWER: (January 21) Ice is covering much of the stream, which is making fishing difficult.

BEAVER RIVER, UPPER: (January 21) Anchor ice is making fishing difficult.

BOULDER MOUNTAIN: (January 21) Most of the Boulder Mountain lakes are closed to fishing until April 17. Check the Utah Fishing Guidebook to see which lakes are open year-round. All of the lakes are now iced over and access is limited to snowmobile. Anglers report good fishing at Oak Creek Reservoir.

CLEAR CREEK: (January 21) Wild rainbow and brown trout are abundant. Although trout get sluggish during the winter, stream fishing can be very productive during the colder months. Successful winter tackle includes nymphs, spinners and natural baits.

CORN CREEK: (January 21) Wild brown trout are abundant. Although trout get sluggish during the winter, stream fishing can be very productive during the colder months. Successful winter tackle includes nymphs, spinners and natural baits.

DUCK CREEK POND / ASPEN MIRROR LAKE: (January 07) Closed January 1 to April 17.

EAST FORK SEVIER RIVER IN KINGSTON CANYON: (January 21) Much of the river is iced-over, which is making fishing difficult.

EAST FORK SEVIER RIVER, BLACK CANYON: (January 21) The river in Black Canyon generally does not freeze. Although trout get sluggish during the winter, stream fishing can be very productive throughout the colder months. Successful winter tackle includes nymphs, spinners and streamers.

ENTERPRISE RESERVOIR, UPPER: (January 21) Access is good, but the parking area is not plowed. The ice is 6 to eight inches thick. The water level is low and a little murky. Anglers report good success for small rainbows with jigs and ice flies tipped with mealworms or PowerBait.

FISH LAKE: (January 21) The ice is 12 inches thick. Access is good for snowmobiles and ATVs at the marinas. There is heavy fishing pressure on the weekends. Fishing is not as hot as it was two weeks ago, but there is still good fishing for splake, perch and rainbows. Anglers are catching a lot of small trout and perch in 15 to 20 feet of water. Larger splake have moved to 30 feet, so try fishing on the bottom or suspended 20 to 30 feet down over deeper water. You'll find the best fishing in areas that have received less pressure. For rainbows or perch, try light-colored jigs or spoons tipped with mealworms, wax worms, or nightcrawlers. For splake, tip your jigs with perch meat. (Perch will also hit perch meat). If you're fishing for splake, you could catch a few small lake trout. For large lake trout, fish in deeper water and pair larger jigs and bait with a lot of patience.

FORSYTH RESERVOIR: (January 21) Fishing is generally slow, with the best success early in the morning. White jigs tipped with chub, sucker, or minnows can produce a few nice splake.

FREMONT RIVER: (January 21) The road from Mill Meadow to Fish Lake is not plowed. Winter fishing is fair to good in the Bicknell Bottoms.

KOLOB RESERVOIR: (January 21) Access is limited to snowmobile. There is little ice fishing pressure because of the poor access. Ice fishing is good, if you can get to the reservoir

LOWER BOWNS RESERVOIR: (January 21) Access is limited to snowmobile or possibly ATV.

MAMMOTH CREEK: (January 21) Unlike other streams in the area, Mammoth Creek generally doesn't ice over. Although trout get sluggish during the winter, stream fishing can be very productive throughout the colder months. Successful winter tackle includes nymphs, spinners and streamers.

MILL MEADOW RESERVOIR: (January 21) Perch fishing is good to excellent. Try small jigs tipped with night crawlers, mealworms, or perch meat. Most of the perch are pretty small, but anglers are catching enough perch to fill a limit of fish over eight inches. Anglers are encouraged to harvest perch in order to help the population stay in balance with available food. Remember that the perch limit has been increased to 50. Anglers are also catching a few brown trout and splake.

MINERSVILLE RESERVOIR: (January 21) The ice is about 10 to 12 inches thick, however, the water level is rising so the edges are slushy. Fishing is generally slow to fair, with most anglers catching 10- to 12-inch rainbows. Although anglers are catching a few larger fish, no one has reported catching a fish over 22 inches. Most anglers are using jigs. Remember that the use or possession of bait, including scented lures, is prohibited at Minersville Reservoir.

NAVAJO LAKE: (January 21) There is plenty of ice. Access is limited to snowmobiles. Anglers report good fishing for splake. Try light-colored jigs or flashy spoons tipped with cutbait (like chub or sucker) or half a minnow.

NEWCASTLE RESERVOIR: (January 21) Access is good, the ice is safe and there is little pressure. Anglers report fair fishing for small rainbows.

OTTER CREEK RESERVOIR STATE PARK: (January 21) The ice is 13 to 15 inches thick with some soft edges because of the recent warm weather. Fishing is generally spotty. Anglers are catching decent-sized, fat and healthy fish. Try fishing with nightcrawlers in a depth of 5 to 10 feet.

PANGUITCH LAKE: (January 21) There is a lot of pressure on the weekends. Fishing ranges from slow to good. Anglers that can get away from the crowds are having the best success. Try fishing during the week. The best fishing is usually first thing in the morning. Rainbows will generally hit small jigs and ice flies tipped with mealworms, wax worms, nightcrawlers or PowerBait. For cutthroat, try tipping larger jigs or spoons with minnows or cutbait. Panguitch Lake has special regulations. Read the Utah Fishing Guidebook for more information.

PARAGONAH RESERVOIR: (January 21) Some trucks make it to the lake during the winter, but most get stuck along the way. Use a snowmobile, or an ATV if the snow isn't too deep. The ice fishing is good, if you can get there.

PINE LAKE: (January 21) The lake should have safe ice, but access is limited by snow. The ice fishing is good, if you can get there.

QUAIL LAKE: (January 21) The water temperature is in the low- to mid-40s. Trout fishing has slowed down. Bass fishing usually slows down during the colder months, though you can still catch fish. Make sure you fish during the warmest part of the day. A very slow retrieve is key. Dead-sticking is often the best technique. Many bass anglers prefer drop-shot rigs in the winter. Don't be afraid to use larger plastics or even hardware.

SAND HOLLOW RESERVOIR: (January 21) Water temperature is in the low- to mid-40s. Bass fishing slows down during the colder months, although you can still catch fish. Make sure you fish during the warmest part of the day. A very slow retrieve is key. Dead-sticking is often the best technique. Many bass anglers prefer drop-shot rigs in the winter. Don't be afraid to use larger plastics or even hardware.

SEVIER RIVER IN MARYSVALE CANYON: (January 21) Much of the river is iced-over, which is making fishing difficult.

THOUSAND LAKE MOUNTAIN: (January 21) Access is limited; the best access is from I-70. Ice fishing can be good to excellent in Solomon Basin.

WASHINGTON COUNTY COMMUNITY FISHERIES: (January 21) Fishing is fair to good. Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, all Utah community fisheries have a new limit of 2 fish in any combination of species. (For example: two trout, or one trout and 1 bluegill, or 2 bluegill, etc.) The Division stocks rainbow trout every three weeks in all of the ponds.

WIDE HOLLOW RESERVOIR: (December 23) The reservoir has been drained so that the dam can be rebuilt. It will be filled again in 2011.

YANKEE MEADOW RESERVOIR: (January 21) Access is limited to snowmobile. A few trucks have gotten stuck trying to get to the lake. Ice fishing is good, if you can get there.

Conservation Leaders Selected to Receive 2010 Refuge System Awards

Washington, DC- The National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) have selected recipients of the 2010 Refuge System Awards. These annual awards recognize refuge conservation professionals, volunteers and Friends groups that exemplify outstanding dedication and passion for wildlife conservation in advancement of the mission and purposes of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).

Kevin Foerster has been selected to receive the Paul Kroegel Refuge Manager of the Year Award for his outstanding management of the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California. Mr. Foerster oversaw the growth and restoration of some of the most important wintering waterfowl habitat on the West Coast. His recent accomplishments include implementing a sophisticated inventory and monitoring system and forging partnerships with private landowners to restore the landscape of the Sacramento Valley. He has exhibited his skill, passion and commitment as a leader in the Refuge System, and was recently named as the project leader at Upper Mississippi River Fish and Wildlife Complex.

Vernon Byrd, a biologist at Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, has been selected to receive the Refuge System Employee of the Year Award for demonstrating dedication and vision protecting marine species of coastal Alaska such as auklets, puffins, storm-petrels and other seabirds. Mr. Byrd's innovative inventory, monitoring and research programs have resulted in data that is now used to influence everything from commercial fishing to climate change models. He has been instrumental in efforts to recover species such as the Aleutian cackling goose by eradicating invasive predators, and has been a dedicated champion for conservation in the harsh and far-flung environment of maritime Alaska.

Zeeger de Wilde will receive the Volunteer of the Year Award for his unwavering support and commitment to the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Maryland and Virginia. Truly dedicated to the Refuge System, Mr. de Wilde has volunteered more than 12,000 hours on refuges over the past 20 years. Drawing extensively on his background in horticulture, he is leaving a lasting mark through helping create butterfly gardens that showcase native plants.

The Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges will receive the Friends Group of the Year Award. Founded in 2005, the Friends of Alaska have the colossal task of protecting and raising awareness for over 75 million acres of lands in Alaska's 16 national wildlife refuges. The Friends have undertaken projects to remove invasive plants, reduce invasive horse populations, and educate both local communities and national decision-makers on the importance of Alaska's wildlife refuges. They have had outstanding results and continue to grow and reach out to new communities.

Awards will be presented at the 2010 Refuge System Awards Reception sponsored by NWRA, NFWF, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) in the Cannon Building Caucus Room in Washington, DC on the evening of Tuesday, March 9th.

Wasatch Mountain State Park hosts a Full Moon Snow Shoe Hike

The Friends of Wasatch Mountain State Park is again hosting the popular Full Moon Snowshoe Hike on Friday, January 29, 2009. The tour begins at the State Parkls Visitors Center, 1281 Warm Springs Road, in Midway at 7 pm.

Participants are to meet at the Visitor Center for registration, snowshoe check out, and to meet the trail guides. No experience is required.

There are three experience levels. Beginner tours last about 90 minutes, while intermediate and advanced tours may run 2 to 2 ½ hours.

Snowshoers must be 12 years or older and can bring their own equipment, or can rent snowshoes for the evening.

Boots are not available. Be sure your foot is warm and water proof. Bring a flashlight, water, and dress warmly. Pets are not permitted.

Refreshments will be served after the tour's end. Cost is $5 for snowshoe rental and $5 event participation fee. Reservations are required no later than January 8th. Call Lucille Tuttle at 435-654-5150 to register. Additional snowshoe hikes are scheduled for February 6th and March 13th at the Visitors Center.

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market More Inclusive of Peripheral Winter Sports

Photo courtesy Gary Newkirk

SALT LAKE CITY - Jan. 21, 2010 - Outdoor Retailer (OR) has expanded its wintersports treatments and partnerships at Winter Market 2010, running today through January 24 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The OR week began yesterday with All Mountain Demo held at Snowbasin Resort in Ogden, Utah.

"This year at the show we are giving more attention to emerging categories like snowboarding, endurance sports, casual footwear and other tangential but related markets that we want to further include in the Outdoor Retailer community," said Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Retailer show director. "The strength of the show and the markets that support it put OR in a great position to embrace additional snow sports categories alongside its core segments."

All Mountain Demo kicked off the outdoor industry's week-long gathering with hundreds of specialty retailers demoing outdoor goods from nearly 50 vendors on the slopes of Snowbasin Ski Resort.

From the first-ever Nordic Challenge, a cross-country competition along a 7.5 km track, to the Retailer Rumble presented by Transworld Business, All Mountain Demo was an opportunity for retailers to test resort and backcountry hardgoods, apparel and accessories on the mountain before making purchasing decisions for the 2010/2011 winter selling season.

"The All Mountain Demo gives me the chance to compare products and put the different manufacturers' claims to the test," said Ben Pearson, senior product manager for L.L. Bean. "I intend to while I'm at home, but I rarely get the chance."

Exhibiting companies recognize that authentic demo experiences often influence retailers' buying decisions.

"The All Mountain Demo is a great opportunity to prove that a product works," said Brad Bates, sales manager for Mountain Hardwear. "A few buyers that demoed our Refugium and Radiance jackets today came back saying they weren't previously considering buying these models, but they wanted to after testing them."

OR will continue its all-mountain focus this week at Winter Market, the indoor trade show where about 800 companies and between 16,000 and 17,000 attendees will convene to network, write orders and conduct the business of the outdoor industry. Category-specific areas including the Backcountry Village, Climbing Zone, Endurance Zone, and Source and Design Center create gathering areas for each segment's community of brands and retailers.

In an effort to be more inclusive of relevant markets and bring more after hours community-building events to the show, OR is partnering with The North Face and X-Dance Film Festival for their events held concurrently with Winter Market 2010.

The North Face Masters of Snowboarding three-stop tour begins nearby at the Snowbird Ski Resort, about 30 miles from the Salt Palace Convention Center. This competition, held January 22-25, will bring together top big-mountain snowboarders for the rare opportunity to demonstrate their skills in front of a panel of seasoned judges, including Tom Burt, Temple Cummins, Andy Hetzel and Julie Zell. More information about this event is available at http://www.thenorthfacemasters.com/ .

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bear Lake Cisco Run-- Update on Ice Conditions

-- Report and Photos from Scott Tolentino

I went to Bear Lake today with my girls to dip some cisco. We got a late start and didn't get there until about 10:00 AM, but we did manage to get about 20. We didn't see any fish after noon, and left at about 12:30.

There was ice at Cisco Beach, but it wasn't great. It was anywhere from 2 - 4 inches depending on where you were standing. I personally would not have gone out on it any further than the hole that I cut because it wasn't good ice, it was just pieces that had frozen together.

By the time we left, there was water on top of most of the ice, it was warm, and the wind was blowing. Those aren't great conditions for ice, so I hope it lasts for those of you who want to get over there. A good chunk of the lake was frozen, but there is a good amount of open water too. It will be interesting to see what this storm does.

Bear Lake State Park Marina boat slip waiting list for the 2010 season is open

Garden City -- Bear Lake State Park Marina boat slip waiting list for the 2010 season is open now through February 16, 2010 at 5 p.m. A $50 wait list fee is required per slot.

Boaters interested in the silent bid process may submit bids now through 5 p.m. February 16, 2010. Silent bids must be 50 percent higher than the current slip rate. A $20 non-refundable application fee is required.

Those on the waiting list who do not receive a slip may renew their application from between February 17 and April 30 for the 2011 season. New applications for the boat slip waiting lists will be accepted as early as May 1, 2010.

For applications and more information, visit www.stateparks.utah.gov/parks/bear-lake  or call (435) 946-3343.

Reminders from Snowmobile Safety Week

January 10 through 16, 2010 was Utah Snowmobile Safety Week. Utah snowmobilers are encouraged to ride safely this season by:

- Taking Utah's Know Before You Go! Snowmobile Education Course online at stateparks.utah.gov. This course is mandatory for youth eight to 16, but is recommended for all Utah snowmobilers.
- Checking avalanche and weather forecasts at utahavalanchecenter.org before venturing on their ride.
- Wearing a helmet at all times.
- Carrying all recommended safety equipment, including an avalanche beacon, shovel, probe and first aid kit.

After the declaration signing, join Utah State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle Education Specialist Ann Evans and USDA Forest Service outside the capitol for a brief safety demonstration. Evans will also review snowmobile safety equipment, including a helmet, shovel, beacon and probe.

UtahState Parks and Recreation is the state off-highway vehicle authority, providing access, education, and search and rescue on Utah's motorized trails. The agency operates 12 grooming machines, which groom and re-groom Utah's 1,200 miles of snowmobile trails for a total of 25,000 miles each season.

Cisco Run is ON!

Photo Courtesy Phil Douglass

The cisco run is officially "ON" at Bear Lake. Some anglers were standing on the ice, others were chopping big holes and were standing in the water in their waders. The run is just beginning and the schools of fish have been small (2-5 fish or so), but I talked to several anglers this morning who dipped their limits.

Those anglers working in tandem were doing better. On person was "jigging" a lure in the hole to attract the cisco and other other person dipnetted the fish. There is still a lot of open water on Bear Lake and therefore, no one is ice fishing since the ice is very "iffy". Several boats were still being launched this morning just south of Gus Rich Point. They were attempting to fish over the rockpile. Not sure if anyone made it over there or not due to sheets of ice floating around.

Fishing has been good off the weed beds south of Gus Rich Point in water about 25-35' deep from a boat. Best luck is for cutthroat, whitefish, and the occasional lake trout. Tubes and castmasters tipped with cisco have worked for the trout and small lures tipped with meal worms or salmon eggs are working for whitefish. We estimate the cisco run will peak next weekend.

The Cisco Disco is on Saturday, January 23rd. The Garden City Chamber of Commerce and the BL State Park are sponsoring some events including a "Bear Lake Monster Plunge", snow sculpture building, a 5K "fun ski" and an actual 5K race for those who are competitive. So if you come up to dip cisco in the morning, don't forget to pack a swim suit so you can jump into the water at the State Park Marina at noon. Donations are going to Primary Children's Hospital. The Bear Lake Chamber has all the details. http://www.bearlake.org/

Remember the cisco daily and possession limit is 30 fish. Please be careful and count your fish carefully or you risk being ticketed for over limit. Also, it is only legal to dip net your own limit of cisco. It is NOT legal to dip net fish for another person.

International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race Turns 15

Jackson, Wyoming – January 15, 2010 –The International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race (IPSSSDR) mushes through Wyoming to Park City, Utah, January 29 – February 6, 2010, announced Race Director Frank Teasley. Celebrating its 15th year, the dog-friendly, popular-with-mushers race speeds through 10 communities in Wyoming and Utah.

Currently, Teasley is hoping for more snow, but after 15 years putting on the race, he has plans A, B and C in place. “We can always figure out a trail that will work,” says Teasley. “In Jackson, the Public Works Department has been storing snow at the Rodeo Grounds just in case we need it.”

The IPSSSDR attracts many return racers like Sam Perrino and Grant Beck from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, as well as such newcomers as Chris Adkins from Montana, a rookie in the 2010 race. Buddy Streeper, the only musher in sport history to have won the five majors – Laconia, The Pas, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Yellowknife – returns to Wyoming to vie for victory; he won first place in his first IPSSSDR in 2004.

“This year will be a very hard and fast competition from start to finish,” says Teasley. “We have the top 10 teams from last year plus the Streeper Kennel of Fort Nelson, B.C., who have won the IPSSSDR before. Teams will be trying to put clean runs back to back – hoping not so much for good luck as for no bad luck!”

The 2010 Jackson IPSSSDR send-off takes place January 29, 2010, at the Jackson Hole Winter Carnival complete with a bonfire, fireworks show, music and food booths, before heading on to stages in Lander, Pinedale, Cora, Big Piney/Marbleton, Alpine, Kemmerer/Diamondville, and Uinta County, and the big finish in Park City. (a schedule follows this release)

With its unique “stage stop” format, the race stops in a different town each night, giving the Wyoming communities an opportunity to turn on the hospitality for mushers and spectators alike with events from dog parades, kids’ dog sled races and ice sculpture contests to banquets, carnivals and pie socials.

Pedigree® Food for Dogs is the title sponsor of the IPSSSDR. The Pedigree® brand actively supports a wide range of programs that promote responsible pet ownership and highlight the contributions dogs make to society.

The International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race was founded in 1996 by Frank Teasley to make sled dog racing more accessible to the public. For more information, visit the race website at http://www.wyomingstagestop.org/ ; contact the race via e-mail at wystagestop@blissnet.com  or telephone at (307) 734-1163.

January 29 - February 6, 2010 Schedule
January 29: Jackson Hole
January 30: Travel Day
January 31: Lander
February 1: Pinedale/Cora
February 2: Big Piney/Marbleton
February 3: Alpine
February 4: Kemmerer
February 5: Evanston to Mountain View
February 6: Park City

Leupold, Elk Foundation to Partner for Elk Country

MISSOULA, Mont.—Throughout 2010, hunters can purchase four new Leupold products—a spotting scope kit, binoculars, rangefinder and riflescope—earmarked to support the habitat conservation work of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

The RMEF licensed and logoed products will be available at retailers nationwide.

“This is two great brands coming together for the future of elk and elk hunting,” said Steve Decker, vice president of marketing for RMEF. “Leupold has been a great partner and sponsor of RMEF for years and we’re very pleased to announce this expansion into officially licensed products.”

“Leupold & Stevens, Inc. is privileged to have been associated with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the past 24 years,” said Mike Slack of Leupold. “Since those early years, RMEF has compiled an extraordinary list of accomplishments that we all can be very proud of. We are honored to participate in this new partnership.”

The designated products include:

Leupold GR 15-30x50 spotting scope kit—A compact spotting scope (21.5 oz. and 11 inches long) that comes with everything needed to maximize performance including a sturdy tabletop tripod with adjustable legs and swivel/tilt head, padded belt carrying case, mounting adapter, lens covers, quick-detaching shoulder strap and hard-side case.

Leupold Mojave 10x42 binoculars in black—Lightweight, armor coated, rugged and waterproof, these binoculars feature an open bridge, roof prism design, smooth focusing system, wide field of view, twist-up eyecups and generous eye relief for peak brightness and resolution, true to life color fidelity, and exceptional contrast in all light conditions.

Leupold RX-1000TBR rangefinder in camo—Smaller and brighter than previous models, this rugged, weatherproof rangefinder is less than 4 inches long. It features 6x magnification, colorful optics, adjustable intensity settings and built-in inclinometer. Exceptionally intuitive. Accurate to 1,000 yards. Comes in Mossy Oak Breakup.

Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x40 CDS riflescope—Loaded with the latest optical technology, this scope features the Xtended Twilight Lens System, DiamondCoat 2 lens coating, blackened lens edges, waterproofing, twin bias spring erector system, and cryogenically treated adjustments. As a final touch, includes a 24k gold-plated ring and medallion.

Decker added that Leupold products have been a part of RMEF fundraising events for many years. The partnership has generated thousands of dollars for habitat conservation in elk country.

In 2009, RMEF passed the 5.7 million acre mark of habitat conserved or enhanced for elk and other wildlife.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Snowy peaks, dark timber basins and grassy meadows. RMEF is leading an elk country initiative that has conserved or enhanced habitat on over 5.7 million acres—a land area equivalent to a swath three miles wide and stretching along the entire Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico. RMEF also works to open, secure and improve public access for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Get involved at http://www.rmef.org/  or 800-CALL ELK.

"The Sheep Show" Returns to Reno!

The Board of Directors of the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), formerly the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, voted unanimously during their September Board meeting to return “The Sheep Show” to Reno, Nevada for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Wild Sheep Foundation conventions.

“Sheep and mountain hunting enthusiasts worldwide labeled the FNAWS convention The Sheep Show for years and most consider Reno, Nevada the convention’s home.” Gray Thornton, the Foundation’s President and CEO stated about the move. “More dollars have been raised in Reno by FNAWS/WSF for wild sheep conservation than anywhere in North America - our members love Reno and Reno loves the Wild Sheep Foundation. We are thrilled to return to Reno in 2010, stay through 2012, and will launch an aggressive marketing campaign to host the finest sheep and mountain hunting convention in the world” Thornton added.

“We surveyed our membership in July and August and they responded by a 2 to 1 margin that they prefer Reno over other convention cities. While we have enjoyed hosting the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo (WHCE) in Salt Lake City with our colleagues The Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and expect a record breaking WHCE in February of 2009, our return to Reno in 2010 reflects a new strategic direction for the Foundation” WSF Chairman, Louis Rupp noted.

WSF has entered into a three year agreement with the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority for the 2010-2012 conventions which includes joint marketing of the WSF events. The Silver Legacy Resort was selected as the host hotel for the 2010 and 2011 conventions with negotiations with additional Reno properties in process.

February 4-6, 2010 Reno-Sparks Convention Center and Silver Legacy Resort
February 10-12, 2011 Reno-Sparks Convention Center and Silver Legacy Resort
January 19-21, 2012 Reno-Sparks Convention Center & Silver Legacy Resort

Since forming in 1977, the Wild Sheep Foundation and its chapters have raised and expended more than $70 million on programs benefiting wild sheep, other wildlife and their critical habitat. For more information on the Wild Sheep Foundation, their many programs or the February 4-6, 2010 convention in Reno, NV please visit www.wildsheepfoundation.org or contact the Cody office at 720 Allen Avenue, Cody, Wyoming 82414 USA. Telephone 307-527-6261.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bear Lake Fishing Report ahead of the Cisco Run

Photo Courtesy Phil Douglass

Bear Lake Fishing Report Thursday, January 14, 2010:

OK, fellows, next update won't likely be until Jan 18th.

Bear Lake still has no safe ice for ice fishing, however, the area along Cisco Beach froze over last night. However, there is still a lot of open water on the lake. Boaters have been shore-launching their boat along the southwest corner of the lake.

Anglers reported taking limits of cisco off the rockpile area using jigging spoons and castmasters. An underwater camera revealed the fish are thick and are now spawning over the rockpile area. There was a lot of floating ice which made for challenging conditions.

Although deicers are running at the State Park marina they have not been able to keep up and the marina is now frozen.

Anglers also reported good fishing for cutthroat, whitefish and lake trout in 30-50’ of water of the weedbeds south of Gus Rich Point using tube jigs tipped with cisco. No cisco have been sighted along the shorelines as of this morning, but could begin running any day.

Beginning next Monday we will be making daily checks for Cisco and updating the DWR answering machine report.

PLEASE ONLY CALL AFTER 5:00pm. 435-946-8501

Utah's Central Region Fishing Forecast

Photo Courtesy Big Fish Tackle

BURRASTON PONDS: (January 14) Most anglers report fair success with traditional baits and lures.

CANYON VIEW PARK POND: (January 14) Wait until spring to fish here.

DEER CREEK RESERVOIR: (January 14) I saw a few ice anglers this afternoon (Jan. 14 at 4 p.m.), but I also saw water along the edges in some areas. The ice was thin in other locations, so please use caution if you venture out. Ice anglers have reported fair success when using jigs tipped with a worm or wax worm. PowerBait is popular as well. Anglers have caught only an occasional perch. Most of their fish have been 12- to 15-inch rainbow trout.

GRANTSVILLE RESERVOIR: (January 14) The most recent report indicated about five inches of ice, but ice can change quickly. Anglers have had fair success with bait-tipped jigs, PowerBait and worms.

HIGHLAND GLEN PARK: (January 14) There were no reports from anglers this week. Stay off any ice.

JORDANELLE RESERVOIR: (January 14) Anglers report about seven to eight inches of ice on the Rock Cliff arm and thin ice near the Hailstone area. Please check ice thickness carefully before venturing out. Fishing is slow to fair.

KIDNEY POND: (January 14) The pond is closed until spring.

MIDAS POND: (January 14) The pond is closed until spring.

MILL HOLLOW RESERVOIR: (January 14) Hwy. 35 may be closed or unplowed this year, according to media reports. If you can access the reservoir, please use caution and check the ice. There were no reports from anglers this week.

PAYSON LAKE: (January 14) The gate to the canyon is closed for the season.

PROVO RIVER, LOWER: (January 14) Midge imitations are still working. Sow bugs should also be effective this time of year.

PROVO RIVER, MIDDLE: (January 14) Midges, sow bugs and small, dark nymphs are working well. There are special regulations on much of the Provo River — please read the Utah Fishing Guidebook.

SALEM POND: (January 14) Anglers report fair success with traditional baits.

SETTLEMENT CANYON RESERVOIR: (January 14) One angler reports six to seven inches of ice and good success by jigging. Please check the ice before venturing out — conditions can change quickly.

SPANISH OAKS RESERVOIR: (January 14) The gate to the reservoir is closed for the season.

SPRING LAKE: (January 14) Officer Bagley saw some ice anglers at the lake last week, but we haven't received any recent reports. Please send a report if decide to fish at the lake. Be very careful if you're venturing onto the ice.

STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR: (January 14) Anglers Alan and Justin report good fishing success this morning (Jan. 14) and no real problems with the ice. (However, always check the ice before venturing out.) Bait-tipped jigs work well. If fishing is slow, try a new spot. The main regulations for Strawberry are as follows: The limit is four trout or kokanee salmon in the aggregate. No more than two may be cutthroat trout under 15 inches, and no more than one may be a cutthroat trout over 22 inches. All cutthroat trout from 15 to 22 inches must be immediately released. Trout or salmon may not be filleted, and the heads or tails may not be removed in the field or in transit. Go to wildlife.utah.gov/strawberry/pdf/strawberry_brochure.pdf to see photos and illustrations of the fish at Strawberry. These will help you identify the different fish species.

TIBBLE FORK RESERVOIR: (January 14) Stay off the ice. The brown trout spawn has ended, and fishing success has slowed.

UTAH LAKE: (January 14) Anglers report slow to fair success over the last few days. There are some open water patches, especially close to the shoreline. Please use caution — someone fell through the ice last week. Small action lures tipped with bait are the most effective way to fish for white bass.

VERNON RESERVOIR: (January 14) Anglers are ice fishing and report about seven to eight inches of ice. The road to the reservoir is snowy and slippery.

VIVIAN PARK POND: (January 14) Stay off the ice on this small pond. There weren't any reports from anglers this week.

WILLOW POND: (January 14) There weren't any reports from anglers this week. Officer Roach recently reported that most of the urban ponds have ice on them after the recent cold spell. Willow and Millrace had some open water, but he didn't see anyone fishing. Be cautious and don't venture onto the ice.

YUBA RESERVOIR & STATE PARK: (January 14) Most anglers report slow success, but some are catching decent numbers of perch. Location is important. Although the reservoir is frozen, ice conditions fluctuate. Use caution when venturing onto the ice and drill several test holes along the way to verify thickness. Never go onto the ice alone. Visit stateparks.utah.gov/conditions and find updated current conditions for the park you want to visit.

Apply for a 2010 Big Game Hunting Permit

If you enjoy hunting big game in Utah, a time you wait for all year is almost here. Starting Feb. 1, you can apply for a permit to hunt big game animals in 2010.

“Big game hunting in Utah is very popular with people across the country,” says Judi Tutorow, wildlife licensing coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. “We expect to receive almost 300,000 applications this year.”

Start applying on Feb. 1

You can apply for a 2010 permit at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/  starting Feb. 1. Your application must be received through the Web site no later than 11 p.m. on March 1 to be entered in the draw for permits.

If you have questions or need help completing your application, please call any DWR office before 6 p.m. on March 1.

Results of the 2010 Utah Big Game Draw will be available by April 29.

Applying for a point

If you’re not going to hunt in 2010, you can still apply for a bonus point or a preference point. These points increase the chance that you’ll draw a permit the next time you apply.

You can start applying for a point on Feb. 1. Your application for a point must be received through http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/  no later than 11 p.m. on March 8.

Please remember that you must have a hunting license or a combination license to apply for a point or a hunting permit. For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

“Roadrunners & Red Rocks”--St. George Bird Festival awaits January 28–31

Bird Southwest Utah at the 7th Annual St. George Winter Bird Festival from January 28–31, 2010. This Community Outreach Program of the Red Cliffs Audubon Society will be an “Educational Experience” for all levels of birders. It is a wonderful opportunity for all ages to attend and learn from the numerous presenters and leaders that volunteer their time. All activities are free, except for the Banquet.

The festival kicks off at the beginning of the week with Educational Programs for students as Hawkwatch International visits numerous schools. Also, prior to the event, there will be a fun photo contest for you to enter. The events for the general public will begin on Thursday evening at the BLM with a presentation, “Birds of Washington County”. Following, will be a social with refreshments and viewing the photo contest entries.

Headquarters for the festival are centered at the Tonaquint Park & Nature Center in St. George. During the day on Friday & Saturday there will be Exhibits, Sales, Presentations, and Kid’s Workshops. The Southwest Wildlife Foundation and Hawkwatch International will have live birds for you to see! Outstanding and unique daytime activities include: Introduction to Birding, Binoculars & Scopes 101, California Condors, Making your Landscape Environmentally Friendly, Not Anywhere Else on Earth, Identifying Western Buteos, Forest Service, Owls, Bird Brained, Desert Reserve, Wildlife Photography of Southern Utah, Birds of Prey, Plant World Tour, Building Bird Houses/Feeders and a Birding for Kids Workshop.

As in the past, we have had a speaker for a special program on the Friday evening at - Dixie State College. This year we are pleased to present Dave Livermore, State Director for The Nature Conservancy of Utah, who is a 29 year veteran and Vice President of the national organization. His presentation is “Conserving Utah's Biodiversity”. Under Livermore’s direction, the Conservancy has completed over 150 conservation projects preserving nearly 900,000 acres of private and public land in Utah alone.

For our traditional Saturday evening banquet, held at Best Western Abbey Inn, the Keynote Speaker is Dr. Ranee Van Buren, specialist on endangered plants and animals in Washington County and an avid birder. Her presentation is “Through the Eyes of a Birding Botanist”. Fine dining, door prizes and silent auction. Register through the St. George Recreation Center: Call: 435-634-4560 or http://www.activityreg.com/  under programs, Tonaquint Nature Center. Cost is $20.

During the winter months many waterfowl migrate through and stop over in our lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. All field trips are free and open to the public and will depart from the Tonaquint Park parking lot. From the Friday to Sunday there are field trips featuring: Lytle Ranch, Washington Fields/Springs Park, Quail Creek Reservoir-Hurricane Fields, St. George Local Ponds, Toquerville/ Grafton/ Springdale, Rio Virgin Estates, Western Reservoirs, Halfway Wash/Mathis Park, Virgin River Trail, Cedar Valley, Photography Trip, Find the Vermillion Flycatcher, Falconry Field Excursion and Zion National Park.

To view and print a brochure, schedule of events, posters and photo contest forms go to http://www.redcliffsaudubon.org/  or www.sgcity.org/birdfestival  For further information contact the Festival Chairman, Marilyn Davis at 435-673-0996 or e-mail at mkdavis028@msn.com . You don’t want to miss this exciting event sponsored by numerous businesses and organizations! Make your plans today to join us for a wonderful birding event in St. George!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bull Elk Killings in Central Utah

Price -- Wildlife officers have solved three bull elk poaching cases in east-central Utah.
Now they need your help to solve seven more.

“The seven bulls were taken on the Central Mountains-Manti and the Wasatch Mountains bull elk hunting units in east-central Utah,” says Casey Mickelsen, a sergeant with the Division of Wildlife Resources.

“Each of the bulls was killed illegally and then left to rot,” says Ben Riley, another DWR officer who is investigating the shootings. “Each one that was lost means fewer hunting opportunities for hunters and fewer chances to see these bulls while camping and hiking.”

”We need the public’s help to catch the people who killed these animals,” Mickelsen says. If you have information, please call Mickelsen at (435) 820-6010. You are not have to give him your name.

Because most of the bulls that were killed are considered trophy animals under Utah state law, you might be eligible for a limited-entry elk bull permit for the 2010 season or a cash award if you have information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

In the photo that accompanies this story, conservation officers Brandon Baron, Casey Mickelsen and Ben Riley (L-R) are holding the sets of antlers from the three cases that have been successfully prosecuted. In front of them are the antler sets from the seven unsolved cases. (Each antler has a yellow tag next to it.):

#1 5x6 bull elk found on Oct. 18 on the Wasatch Mountains unit near Long Ridge in Utah County. Officers believe the elk was shot during the last week of the general-season spike elk hunt.

#2 Spike bull that was also found on Oct. 18 near Long Ridge in Utah County. Officers believe whoever killed the 5x6 bull killed this bull too. The person left the elk to rot.

#3 7x8 bull elk poached in October 2008 on Black Mountain in the Muddy drainage in Emery County. Although the bull was killed more than a year ago, officers haven’t closed the case. They’re still searching for clues that will lead to the arrest and conviction of the person who killed this trophy animal.

#4 5x6 bull elk poached in Seeley Canyon in Sanpete County during the first week of the 2009 general-season spike elk hunt. This elk may have been killed by a spike elk hunter who shot into a herd of elk. Officers think other hunters may have been in the area and may have witnessed the shooting.

#5 6x6 bull elk poached near the intersection of the Buck Flat all-terrain vehicle trail and the North Face Road on Ferron Mountain in Sanpete County. This bull was probably shot during the last few days of the 2009 general-season spike bull hunt. Whoever shot this bull dragged it behind an ATV and then covered it with branches and logs. Officers hope another hunter may have seen someone dragging an elk with an ATV.

#6 6x6 bull elk discovered on Sept. 28 on the Central Mountains-Manti unit near the Indian Creek drainage in Emery County. The elk was shot and left not far from the Spoon Creek trailhead. Officers believe the elk was killed during the last week of the early limited-entry elk hunt. A limited-entry elk hunter may have shot the animal and then left it to try to find an even bigger elk to kill.

#7 6x6 bull elk poached during the overlapping 2009 muzzleloader deer/muzzleloader limited-entry bull elk hunt. The carcass was found in the canyon directly east of the Indian Creek Campground at the base of East Mountain in Emery County. Officers think a muzzleloader elk hunter may have shot the bull.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Upcoming Utah State Parks Events

Photo by Ron Stewart, DWR

January 21 Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum - Vernal
Vegetation and Urban Watersheds: Join Dr. Nicholas Allmendinger, hydrologist at Utah State University - Uinta Basin Campus, for a lecture on vegetation and urban watersheds at 7 p.m. (435) 789-3799

January 23 Wasatch Mountain State Park - Midway
Homemade Birdfeeders: Join us from 10 to 11 a.m. at the visitor center to learn about backyard birds and ways to attract them to your yard through homemade bird feeders. Bring empty milk jugs, egg cartons, or soda bottles. (435) 654-1791

January 23 Jordanelle State Park - Heber
Avalanche Education: Join park staff and the Utah Avalanche Center from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Hailstone Event Center for a class on avalanche and snow safety. Due to the rising number of young avalanche victims, this class is geared toward families with junior high and high school-age children who spend time in the mountain settings.  (435) 649-9540

Apply now for Utah's Dedicated Hunter program

You can hunt all three general buck deer seasons for the next three years if your application is drawn to join Utah’s Dedicated Hunter program.

And you can hunt those seasons in the region of your choice.

Applications to join the program will be accepted starting Jan. 4. Before you can apply, however, you must complete the program’s free online orientation course. The course will teach you more about the program.

You can take the course at www.wildlife.utah.gov/dh .

“The Dedicated Hunter program is a great program for the state’s deer hunters and for the state’s wildlife,” says Rhianna Christopher, volunteer services coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

“The program gives participants a chance to help mule deer and other wildlife by helping with habitat projects,” she says. “In return, you get to hunt deer all three seasons in the region of your choice.”

Christopher says the program is capped at 10,000 hunters. About 4,000 spots are open for 2010.

To be included in the draw to join the program, your application must be received no later than 11 p.m. on Jan. 19.

In addition to the required orientation course, www.wildlife.utah.gov/dh  also provides an overview of the program. You can also call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or (801) 538-4711 for more information.

Big Game Hunt Changes include a Five-day Rifle Hunt

Salt Lake City -- For most hunters, Utah’s most popular hunt—the general rifle buck deer hunt—will be shorter in 2010.

By a 4-to-2 vote, the Utah Wildlife Board approved a recommendation to shorten Utah’s general rifle buck deer hunt from nine days to five days for hunters who are 19 years of age or older on Aug. 21. (Aug. 21 is the first day of the state’s 2010 general archery buck deer hunt.)

Hunters who are 18 years of age or younger on Aug. 21 can hunt for nine days.

The following are the dates the board approved:

Hunter age                        Season dates
19 years of age or older       Oct. 23 – 27
18 years of age or younger   Oct. 23 – 31

Also, on five units where buck-to-doe ratios are lower than 15 bucks per 100 does—the Cache; Ogden; Oquirrh-Stansbury; South Slope, Vernal; and Monroe units—the rifle hunt will run for three days:

Hunter age Season dates
All ages        Oct. 23 – 25

The Division of Wildlife Resources had recommended to the board a nine-day rifle hunt for all hunters in the state, regardless of their age.

The only exception the DWR recommended to the nine-day hunt was limiting the hunt to five days on the five units that have buck-to-doe ratios that are below 15 bucks per 100 does.

The board did approve a DWR proposal to allow general archery hunters to hunt across the state during the entire general archery season in 2010. (In 2009, general archery hunters had to choose which region they wanted to hunt in during the first two weeks of the hunt.)

All of the changes the board approved at its Dec. 3 meeting will be available in the 2010 Utah Big Game Guidebook. The guidebook is now available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks .

Archery hunting across Utah

For years, hunters in southern Utah have expressed concerns about how crowded the area appears to be during the general archery buck deer hunt.

To gather information about the number of archers who hunt in each region, last year the DWR recommended, and the board approved, a change for the 2009 season: archery hunters would have to choose which region they wanted to hunt in during the first two weeks of the hunt.

Based on the regions hunters chose, and the acres of public land that have deer habitat, the DWR has determined that the Southern Region is actually the least crowded region in the state. “The data shows that archery hunters are not the main reason the Southern Region seems crowded during the archery hunt,” says Anis Aoude, big game coordinator for the DWR.

The data Aoude is referring to is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings/info/09-11-08.pdf .

Aoude says southern Utah is a very popular place to camp and hike in late summer. That may be the main reason the Southern Region seems crowded during the archery hunt. “We don’t feel we should restrict and penalize archery hunters because other people enjoy being in the woods too,” he says.

Aoude says archers can be part of the crowding in the region, but that situation isn’t unique to the Southern Region—it happens in every region in Utah. “There are certain areas in every region that are popular and draw a lot of hunters,” he says.

A committee helped the DWR draft its statewide archery recommendation. The committee included three archery hunters from southern Utah, two members of the Utah Bowhunter’s Association, two members of Bowhunters of Utah and Bill Fenimore, a member of the Utah Wildlife Board.

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

Cisco Disco planned at Bear Lake State Park

Photo Courtesy Phil Douglass

Garden City – Do the Cisco Disco at Cisco Beach on the east side of Bear Lake Saturday, January 23 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Cisco are small whitefish that make their annual run through Bear Lake. Dip a net into the water and catch your share.

After the Cisco Disco, drive to Garden City on the west side of Bear Lake for a variety of events. At noon, take an icy swim during the Bear Lake Monster Plunge at Bear Lake State Park Marina; from 2 to 4 p.m. visit Garden City Park and participate or cheer athletes in the cross country ski and snowshoe 5K races; or build or view designs at the snow sculpting contest. Enjoy all day ice skating (bring your own skates). Cocoa and snacks will be served.

For additional information, visit http://www.bearlakechamber.com/ , http://www.bearlake.org/  or call 800-448-BEAR (2327).

Freezin' for a reason at Hyrum State Park

Photos by Lyn Rees

Hyrum -- Hyrum State Park hosts the 2010 Polar Plunge Saturday, January 16 at noon to benefit the Utah Special Olympics. Participants donate $25 for the privilege of jumping into the icy water, all to benefit a great cause. Registration begins at 10 a.m.

More than 100 participants are currently registered, including a few Super Plungers who will jump every hour for 24 hours beginning at 1 p.m. Friday, January 15. Dress in a costume or come as you are! For more information, please visit http://sout.org/ .

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bear Pursuit Changes for 2010 approved

Salt Lake City -- Three areas that are popular places to pursue bears with dogs should be quieter this summer.

On Jan. 6, the Utah Wildlife Board approved the following bear pursuit changes on the Book Cliffs, San Juan and La Sal units in eastern Utah:

* The number of permits offered to pursue bears with dogs will be limited this summer. And the summer pursuit season has been split into an early season and a late season. The following number of permits will
be available:

Early season
Unit                     Season dates            Resident     Nonresident
Book Cliffs           July 8 - 22                  15               2
San Juan               July 8 - 22                  18               2
La Sal                   July 8 - 22                  12               1

Late season
Unit                     Season dates            Resident    Nonresident
Book Cliffs           July 29 - Aug. 12       15              2
San Juan               July 29 - Aug.12        18              2
La Sal                   July 29 - Aug. 12       12              1

The season dates have been set so no pursuit takes place during the July 24 weekend, which is a state holiday in Utah. (There’s a seven-day break between the two pursuit seasons.)

* The number of hounds houndsmen can use to pursue bears on ANY unit in the state during the summer pursuit season will also be limited. 

Houndsmen may not use more than eight hounds to pursue a single bear in the summer.
This change applies to the summer pursuit season only. The number of dogs houndsmen can use during the spring and fall pursuit and hunting seasons is not limited.

Those changes -- and more permits for bear hunts this spring and fall -- are among changes the board approved at their meeting in Salt Lake City.

All of the changes the board approved will be available in the 2010 Utah Black Bear Guidebook. The guidebook should be available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks by late January.

A quieter summer
The Book Cliffs, San Juan and La Sal units are three of the most popular places in Utah to pursue bears with trained hounds.  Unfortunately, that popularity has caused some problems. “Last summer, we received more than 150 complaints from campers, hikers and others who were recreating in the area,” says Justin Dolling, game mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

“Some of the houndsmen were using as many as 20 hounds to pursue a single bear,” Dolling says. “When these hounds get on a bear’s track, they bark a lot, and they’re extremely noisy. The noise and the commotion they and the houndsmen caused bothered some of the people who were camping and hiking in the area.”

More hunting permits
The board also approved more hunting permits for this year’s bear hunts.

In 2009, a total of 319 permits were available. The board approved 368 permits for 2010. Based on an average success rate of just over 40 percent, the extra 49 permits should result in hunters taking about 21 additional bears in 2010. In 2009, hunters took 147 bears in Utah.

First spot and stalk only hunt
The board also approved Utah’s first spot and stalk only hunt. This hunt will be held in the Roadless area in the Book Cliffs. Hunters may not use hounds during the hunt. “Very few bear hunters hunt this area,” Dolling says. “As a result, the bear population is growing. Horseback riders and big game hunters are encountering more and more bears in the area.”

The area’s small size is among the challenges houndsmen face in taking bears in the area. The hounds can chase bears off the unit before the hunters take the bears.

“That’s why we decided to go with a spot and stalk hunt,” Dolling says. “There are plenty of bears in the area, so there’s a good chance that spot and stalk hunters will find success. And the chance that a spot and stalk hunter chases a bear off the unit before he or she takes it is much lower than those hunting with hounds.”

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR’s Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.

How are feathered friends surviving the season?

European Starling by Evelyne Samson © Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Ithaca, NY—How do birds withstand wicked winter weather and other daily threats to survival, even in warmer climates? A new environmental challenge from the Celebrate Urban Birds project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites participants to show how birds are surviving in their neighborhoods this winter. It can be a photo, artwork, video, even a story or a poem describing how birds are finding the food, water, and shelter they need. People of all ages can participate as well as groups such as schools, libraries, clubs, and businesses. Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round citizen-science project focused on birds in neighborhood settings.

“It’s unbelievable how even tiny birds can survive being outdoors 24/7 in places where winter is cold and snowy,” says project leader Karen Purcell. “We want to see how they’re getting along. It might be a crow huddling near a chimney to get warm, visits to bird feeders, a berry bush that birds raid for food, a fountain birds use for water, or maybe even one of the lucky birds soaking up the sun in a warm, southern state.”
Prizes include a pair of Eagle Optics binoculars, bird feeders, a birdsong calendar, books, posters, cards and more. The first 50 entrants will receive a copy of the "Little Green Places" poster and selected images and videos will be posted on the Celebrate Urban Birds website.

How to enter:

1. Email entries to urbanbirds@cornell.edu . If you submit a video, post it on YouTube and send us the link.

2. Write “Survival_yourfirstname yourlastname yourstate” in the subject line.

3. Include your mailing address in your email

4. Explain why you submitted your entry—describe your winter conditions and what you observe the birds doing during winter.

5. One entry per person, please.

Deadline for entries is February 15, 2010

Visit the Celebrate Urban Birds website for more information, to see entries for past challenges, and to read the terms of agreement for all entries.