Bear hunting focus of public meetings
The year of 2005 will be the last year of a five-year experiment to see if hunting black bears in the spring results in hunters taking fewer female bears in Utah. To make sure Division of Wildlife Resources biologists look at data that's consistent, they'll recommend about the same number of black bear hunting permits for 2005 as they did for 2004.
"The data we have also indicates the number of black bears in Utah is stable, or is increasing slightly, which is another reason we're recommending permit numbers that are similar to this past season," said Kevin Bunnell, mammals coordinator for the DWR.
People may learn more about the proposals, and provide their input and suggestions, at an upcoming series of public meetings. Citizens representing Utah's five Regional Advisory Councils will take the public input received to the Utah Wildlife Board when it meets Jan. 4, 2005 to approve Utah's 2005 Black Bear Proclamation.
The DWR will also present a River Otter Management Plan at the meetings.
The meeting time for the southeastern region will be on Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River
The Utah Wildlife Board approved the five-year experimental spring bear hunt in 2000. Bunnell says since the spring hunt started in 2001, fewer female bears have been taken on the four units where spring hunting is allowed compared to four similar units where hunting is allowed in the fall.
"We need one more year of good data before we can draw our final conclusions," Bunnell said.
Bunnell says there are two main reasons fewer females are usually taken in the spring. "Male bears usually emerge from their dens earlier in the spring than females do, and the spring hunt dates have been set to increase the chance of hunters encountering male bears," he said. "Also, a female's cubs tend to stay closer to her in the spring than they do later in the year, and harvesting females with cubs is prohibited."
The DWR is recommending a total of 236 public permits for 2005 compared to 226 in 2004. The Book Cliffs unit in eastern Utah and the two South Slope units in northeastern Utah are the only units where significant increases are being proposed.
The DWR is recommending 30 permits for the Book Cliffs unit in 2005, compared to 24 in 2004. For the two South Slope units, the division is recommending a total of 22 permits for 2005, compared to a total of 15 in 2004.
The DWR will also present the state's first River Otter Management Plan. The main proposal in the plan is to transplant river otters from northeastern Utah into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
"The DWR reintroduced river otters to the Green River in the late 1980s, and they've done really well," Bunnell said. "We'd like to take some of those otters and start reestablishing them in other parts of the state."
In addition to the Green River area, Bunnell says river otters also live in other parts of northeastern Utah, in the Raft Rivers in the northern part of the state and in the Colorado River area of Grand County.
For more information about the meetings, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office in Price at (435) 636-0260.