Chukar partridge are exotic birds native to central and east Asia areas of India and Afghanistan.
During the latter part of September, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will again release some 4,000 chukar partridge throughout the state. Adult pen-reared birds will be released as part of a continued effort to provide more hunting opportunity for Utah's upland game sportsmen.
Since the closing of DWR's last game farm in 1993, many Utah upland game hunters have expressed an interest in seeing some of their license funds used to propagate game birds for release into the wild for hunting. Limited releases of chukar partridge began again by DWR in 1997.
The DWR will not be operating a game farm of its own as was the case until 1993. Instead, birds for release will be grown by a Utah game bird producer, purchased under contract by the DWR, and released into the wild. Chukars will be released into areas of Utah where the DWR has constructed new game bird water guzzlers and areas where chukar populations have been depressed because of severe drought or winter conditions.
Chukars are an exotic bird, 15 inches in length and weighing 20 ounces. Chukars are native to places like India and Afghanistan in the Middle East. The chukar partridge inhabits some of the most inhospitable habitat Utah has to offer. Chukars are found in the barren desert areas of the state and prefer steep, rocky, arid slopes. Low growing shrubs such as sagebrush, saltbush and cheatgrass vegetative zones above and below the juniper tree belt seem to be preferred. Talus and rocky slopes provide chukars with concealment as well as escape cover. Foods consist of grass seeds, weed seeds, buds, flowers, and in the winter, new growth cheatgrass. Male and female chukars are mostly identical in appearance, except that male birds will often have a "button-like" spur on the back of the leg.
Pen-reared chukars will be released in five areas in Carbon and Emery counties. Locations are selected in suitable chukar habitat that will provide hunter opportunity. These areas include the following: Miller's Canyon southeast of the town of Emery, on the south side of Cedar Mountain near Jim Wilson Reservoir or other livestock ponds, above Millsite reservoir near the town of Ferron, the Gordon Creek fields on the Consumer's Road eight miles west of Price, and the Farnum area southeast of the town of Wellington. Hunters are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity but hunt in a safe, responsible manner. Wing barrels may be placed at some of these locations so that biologists can monitor harvest rates.
The 2010 chukar season opens on September 25 and will run through February 13, 2011 in southeastern Utah. Both males and females are hunted with the bag limit being 5 birds and a possession limit being 10 birds. If you have any questions contact the Utah DWR office in Price at (435) 613-3700.