Hunting Trumpeter Swans Now Illegal In Utah
There are some changes coming to upland game and hunting and waterfowl hunting in Utah by decision of the Utah Wildlife Board. The changes were announced following a public meeting held last week in Salt Lake City. It is now illegal to hunt and harvest trumpeter swans in Utah.
In 2019, swan regulations changed to expand the hunting boundaries in Box Elder County and to increase the total number of swan permits offered in Utah to allow for additional hunting opportunities. Since that change, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has had to close the swan hunting early the last four years because of the federal quota of 20 trumpeter swans being met.
Utah is one of only nine states in the U.S. that allows hunting for swans. Due to the low population size of trumpeter swans in the Greater Yellowstone area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sets the annual harvest quota the number of trumpeter swans that can be harvested in Utah. As mentioned, that quota was set at 20.
In an effort to prevent the swan hunting season from having to close early, the Utah Wildlife Board voted to prohibit the harvest of trumpeter swans in Utah. Only tundra swan hunting permits will be issued to hunters, and it will be illegal to harvest a trumpeter swan. Hunters will still be required to check in any harvested swans at a DWR office. Trumpeter swans will be seized, and the hunter may face a citation.
A few other changes to waterfowl hunting were approved by the board as well, including updating the rule to allow electronic duck stamps, in accordance with recent legislative changes. In addition to having a hunting license, anyone hunting waterfowl in Utah is required to have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, and those 16 years of age or older are required to also have a federal duck stamp. Previously, duck stamps could only be purchased from a local post office, various license agents or by phone. HB 341 authorized the DWR to sell duck stamps online on the DWR website, in order to make transactions easier for hunters.
The board also approved an updated turkey management plan, which was set to expire this year. The current plan was approved in 2014 as a six year plan, and a three-year extension was approved in 2020. The new plan will be in effect until 2029. The plan outlines several goals for turkey management in Utah. The new plan aims to maintain and improve wild turkey populations and minimize conflicts between turkeys and humans. The new plan will also improve turkey hunting opportunities across the state and enhance the appreciation of wild turkeys in the Beehive State.
The planning process also resulted in the development of an emergency feeding policy and a crash response plan. The release sites were also due for revision this year, as they need to go through the public process every five years. The approved plan also includes updates to the limited-entry hunt boundaries.
The board also approved an update to the translocation management plan for desert tortoises in southwestern Utah. Mojave desert tortoises, native to areas north and west of the Colorado River in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California, were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. As such, desert tortoises are protected under federal and state laws. Washington County is the native range of the Mojave desert tortoise in Utah. It’s also an area with a lot of growth and recreation, which leads to more human-tortoise encounters.
The updates to this plan outline how displaced desert tortoises from developed areas will be used to enhance desert tortoise recovery efforts in Washington County. This will be done by strategically moving displaced tortoises to low-density areas that provide the best conservation need and enhance populations within the Upper Virgin River Recovery Unit, east of the Beaver Dam Mountains. Thus new plan will also identify translocation areas that contain criteria necessary to sustain populations. The plan will also supplement core populations and augment connectivity between the desert tortoise conservation areas.
The Utah Wildlife Board comprises seven members who are appointed by the governor. They serve for six years and help make decisions about hunting, fishing and wildlife management in Utah.