During mid-September, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will 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.
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 and released into the wild. Chukars will be released into areas of Utah, where DWR has constructed new game bird water guzzlers using habitat funds, 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: Miller's Canyon southeast of the town of Emery; southeast of Moore off the Moore Highway; above Millsite reservoir near the town of Ferron; Pinnacle Canyon, five miles west of Price; and the Farnum area, southeast of the town of Wellington.
The 2004 chukar season opens on Sept. 18 and runs through Jan. 31 in southeastern Utah. Both males and females are hunted with the bag limit of five birds and a possession limit of 10 birds.
For questions, contact the Price office at 636-0260.