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Front Page » November 14, 2006 » Sports » Swans migrating through Utah, hunting season begins
Published 3,250 days ago

Swans migrating through Utah, hunting season begins

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Sun Advocate sports reporter

Swans are migrating to Utah in great numbers in recent weeks.

The first swans of the fall - 22 of them - were spotted Oct. 10 during a Division of Wildlife Resources' survey along the Great Salt Lake's eastern shore.

What a difference three weeks makes.

During an Oct. 31 survey, DWR Migratory Game Bird Coordinator Tom Aldrich counted a whopping 40,132 swans. And that number climbed to 52,493 on Nov. 7.

"Swans are definitely migrating through Utah right now," Aldrich says.

Most of the swans spotted during the airplane survey flown during mid-morning on Nov. 7 were on Unit 1 at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge west of Brigham City. More than 28,000 swans were spotted on Unit 1.

"Unit 1 is not open to hunting, but swans from the unit may fly over units 2, 1A, 3A and 3B, which are open to hunting," Aldrich says.

Two other areas with lots of swans were the Bear River Duck Club east of the refuge and private duck clubs on the southeastern shore of the lake, south of the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area.

A total of 9,308 swans were counted on the Bear River club and 2,354 swans were counted at the clubs on the southeastern shore.

Utah's swan hunting season ends Dec. 10. The 2,000 hunters who drew a hunting permit earlier this fall are the only hunters allowed to hunt swans.

Here are some hunting tips from the DWR.

To find success, Aldrich suggests hunters spend time watching the swans and learning their flight patterns. Tundra swans are very consistent in the times of day they fly and the routes they take. Hunters who learn these patterns will find the most success.

Swan activity also increases during the first ice-up, as swans search for areas with open water.

"Factors that can change a swan's flight pattern include hunting pressure, weather changes and the availability of food," Aldrich says.

Hunters are reminded that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has closed all of the areas north of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and north of Forest Street (the road leading from Brigham City to the refuge) to tundra swan hunting.

The USFWS has restricted tundra swan hunting to try and lessen the number of trumpeter swans that are taken, Aldrich says. Trumpeter swans are less abundant than tundra swans.

Swan hunters are reminded about requirements that are designed to help the DWR and the USFWS obtain an accurate count of the number of trumpeter swans that hunters might accidentally take.

Within 72 hours of taking a swan, hunters must have the bird examined and measured at a DWR office, or the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Also, everyone who drew a 2006 swan permit must return their harvest questionnaire within 10 days after the season closes, even if they don't hunt or take a swan.

People who fail to do these things won't be allowed to obtain a Utah swan permit in 2007.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to make sure that all of the trumpeter swans that hunters might accidentally take are counted," Aldrich says. "We think the number of trumpeters taken by Utah hunters is very low. This monitoring program that we're continuing will help us know for sure."

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