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Off-highway vehicle restrictions at state waterfowl management areas

Hunters may not ride off-highway vehicles at state waterfowl management areas unless the area they want to travel is posted open to OHV use.

This rule was among several the Utah Wildlife Board approved for Utah's upcoming waterfowl hunting season at an Aug. 12 meeting in Salt Lake City.

The board also approved a 107-day duck and goose season. The season would include a 60-day season for canvasback ducks and a 60-day season for pintails. The pintail season would be split. Part of the pintail season would be held during the first 30 days of the general season, and the last 30 days would be held at the end of the general season.

More of the 1,664 hunters the DWR randomly surveyed this past March favored a split pintail season over a straight season that ran during the first part of the general season, or a straight season that ran during the last part of the general season.

"The split season allows hunters to take a pintail early in the season, when most of Utah's hunters are in the marshes and when it's often difficult to distinguish one duck from another," Aldrich said. "It also allows hunters, who want to take a bird that's fully plumaged, to have that chance at the end of the season."

Utah's 60-day canvasback season would run Oct. 2 - Nov. 30.

"The board approved our recommendation to hold the canvasback season at the start of the season, which is when the greatest number of canvasbacks migrate through Utah," Aldrich said. "This will give hunters a better chance at taking a canvasback."

Pending approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Utah's 2004-2005 season would run from Oct. 2, 2004 to Jan. 15, 2005. The USFWS is expected to approve the recommendations within the next two weeks.

Habitat damage and inconsistency between all-terrain vehicle regulations was also discussed by the board and led to approval of an OHV rule change that closes OHV use at state waterfowl management areas unless areas are posted open to their use. Before the board's ruling, OHVs were allowed within all WMA areas that were also open to airboats.

"With the Great Salt Lake near record low levels, OHV use and access around the lake has expanded dramatically," said Tom Aldrich, waterfowl coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "Unfortunately, we're seeing damage in many areas, particularly along the south shore and Layton marsh areas within the Farmington Bay WMA. Deep ruts have been cut through vegetated areas. These ruts can ruin the vegetation and cause changes in the way the water flows through the marsh."

In addition, many OHV riders are leaving the WMA boundaries and are taking their OHVs onto the lake bed of the Great Salt Lake, which is state sovereign land and is closed to OHV use.

For more information about the upcoming season, contact the Price DWR office.

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