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Dear HUPC member,

During August the Utah Wildlife Board and its feeder system of Regional Wildlife Advisory Councils (RAC) will be meeting to adopt a spring bear hunt (which we were successful in ENDING back in l992!), raising the number of cougar permits to increase the kill, and address a deer hunt on Antelope Island. In advance we thank all of you who have struggled through these meetings for so many years! And we challenge you-- ALL OF YOU-- to engage this process ONE MORE TIME!

We also want to THANK the Western Wildlife Conservancy (formerly Predator Education Fund) for all of the work they've done-- we are sending you an ABRIDGED version of their alert and can only hope you will attend the Ogden August 9 meeting. Because of the short notice (a number of RAC meetings will be held in the next day or so), the Ogden meeting is the closest to SLC and gives us the most time to get ourselves organized...

The RACs are not known for listening to wise voices. But we must try-- you may only be BEARING WITNESS but that itself is a crucial form of participation and activism. These meetings are often harsh and the antithesis of science-based, fair policy-making. They cater to a crowd that sees wildlife as a target and have a limited view of ecological or biodiversity issues-- this includes the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources which usually acts as nothing but a recreational hunting group! On the other hand there is a great cafe--the Union Grill--downstairs from the meeting room!

"The presence of our helplessness is our gift to the helpless." Richard John Neuhaus

Western Wildlife Conservancy COUGAR, BEAR, ANTELOPE ISLAND ALERT

The August Regional Wildlife Advisory Council (RAC) meetings are upon us....


435 cougars were killed by licensed hunters last season. The proclamation for next season allows a prediction of 454 more killed, which will be the second-highest Utah total of all time. This despite the following facts: that

  1. cougar depredation of livestock has declined sharply,
  2. that the statewide deer herd (with some local exceptions) is on a generally upward trend, and
  3. that the kill data for this last hunt reveal that the cougar population is moving ever farther away from the "performance targets" set by the 10-year cougar management plan.

For example, the average age of males in the take was only 2.6 years, and that of the females was only 3.2 years (for a combined average of 2.9 years). This means that there are few breeding age males and that most females do not have a chance to raise even one litter to age of independence. On the Cache unit about half (14) of the cougars taken were only yearlings. Also, the % of adults 6 years or older fell to a mere 9.6% (the performance target is 15% or greater). Data from cougar studies would suggest the social organization of Utah cougar populations has been severely impacted and cougar numbers are in steep decline. Therefore, it is very unlikely that any changes that DWR might instigate will go far enough to begin turning things around. It is up to citizens like us to put massive pressure on them through the RAC meetings and the Wildlife Board meeting.

Black Bear

The new 10-year black bear management plan will be introduced for approval. Accompanying it will be seven recommendations. The best one is a recommendation that suitable black bear habitat currently lacking bears (because they were all killed off in the days when there were more sheep on the range) should become home to them once again. We can voice our support for this. The worst recommendation is for an experimental spring hunt. As you may know, the Utah spring bear hunt was terminated about six years ago, in accordance with the trend all across North America. People hate spring hunts because they tend to orphan cubs, which then die of starvation or predation. This experimental hunt will be on four units: La Sal, Wasatch, Manti North and Manti South, and will run for four years. Two of the units will be "spot and stalk" for two years, while the other two will allow baiting and hounding for two years, at which time the hunting methods will be reversed for the two sets. The hunt will run from April 15 to May 15, when females are still close to their dens and males, which emerge earlier and don't have to tend cubs, will have ranged farther. The idea is to target these males, which do most of the depredating on domestic sheep, at the same time sparing the females and their cubs. At the end of four years the data will be examined to see whether these two goals were met, as well as which methods were most effective in meeting them. It should be added that spring hunting permits will be subtracted from fall hunting permits, so that there will be no net increase in the number of bears killed, but only (hopefully) a shift in the direction of more males and fewer females being taken, correlated with less depredation on sheep. In addition, spring bear hunters will be required to undergo some sort of training designed to help them tell the difference between the sexes in the field. It is notoriously difficult to do this.

The main problem with this idea is that the resulting data from such a limited experiment are sure to be insufficient for determining whether it is better on the whole (assuming we are going to have bear hunting) to divide the hunt between fall and spring or confine it to the fall. Consequently, four years from now hunters and hounders will argue that we need to extend the experiment to more hunting units and for a longer time to get more data. Thus, with this experimental hunt they will get a foot in the door leading to more extensive spring hunts. In the end, more bears are likely to suffer as a result. Hunters are already greedy for more hunting units and will propose that the Book Cliffs and San Juan units be added to the other four.

Why should we support trophy hunting or hounding of bears in the first place? To protect someone's sheep grazing on public lands? To support someone's need for ego gratification?

Deer Hunting on Antelope Island

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (the group that gave us Prop 5 a couple of years ago) is pushing hard to have deer hunting on Antelope Island. Since being made a state park it has been managed for "non-consumptive" wildlife enjoyment only, and natural processes have been left pretty much alone. There are some 200-225 deer on the island, and of these some 40-60 are bucks. Among these bucks are some having the biggest racks in the world, and these bucks will die and their antlers be eaten by rodents if they are not taken by hunters. And it is not just the big-antlered deer that the sportsmen covet. They are unabashed about wanting to also hunt bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and chukar partridges on the island. They say that revenue from auctioned permits will generate needed income for the Division of Parks and Recreation. So after deer hunting has been approved there will be proposals for these other hunts. Of course, predator control will also be necessary in order to reduce the number of coyotes preying on ungulate fawns. But this can be accomplished by means of aerial gunning and the use of sodium cyanide devices. Do you want aerial gunning on Antelope Island? Antelope Island will be just the first domino to fall....

What You Can Do...

Without wildlife there can be no wild in wilderness. Therefore, for the sake of wilderness and wildness we must do what we can to prevent or mitigate these terrible proposals. You can help do this by attending your RAC meeting and speaking out in opposition to them. You might also consider attending the subsequent Wildlife Board meeting and doing the same. (The Wildlife Board takes input from the RACs and the DWR and makes final wildlife Management policy for the state.) These meetings are your ONLY opportunity as a citizen of Utah to have an effect on wildlife management policy in our state.... Don't be shy about speaking out during the public input phase. ...You will have company and you will be happy you did. When you arrive at the RAC location, fill out a card and give it to whomever is collecting them.

NORTHERN REGION WILDLIFE BOARD MEETING August 9 - 6:00 pm August 17 - 9:00 am Union Station (Upstairs) UDWR Auditorium 2501 Wall Avenue, Ogden 1594 West North Temple, SLC

Dick Carter

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