ST. GEORGE —After the passage of a new wildlife-related law during the 2021 legislative session, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending a few changes to waterfowl hunting, as well as a few other items, and is seeking the public’s feedback.
Wildlife Modifications, designated as HB 295 and signed into law during the 2021 Utah legislative session, prohibits commercial hunting guides and outfitters from using DWR-owned waterfowl management areas without a permit. The new law also prohibits the construction of new blinds on waterfowl management areas, and authorizes the Utah Wildlife Board to make rules regarding the creation and management of waterfowl management areas.
According to a press release issued by the DWR, based on that law and feedback from a recent public survey, the DWR is recommending the following changes to 2021 waterfowl hunting:
- Creating regulations to not allow guiding on waterfowl management areas
- Creating a permit process that allows guides to use waterfowl management areas to access other non-DWR lands
- Prohibiting the construction of new permanent blinds on waterfowl management areas
- Adding Duchesne County to the Uintah County Hunt Area for sandhill crane
- Defining the use of dogs, shot types (including requiring non-lead ammunition) and firearm use on the Utah Lake Wetland Preserve
Blair Stringham, DWR migratory game bird program coordinator, said in the release that these waterfowl management areas provide high-quality hunting areas.
“We want to give the general public the opportunity to utilize these lands,” he said. “Some of these proposals are designed to help reduce crowding and to maintain a better experience for the public.”
During the pandemic, then Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order, authorizing all public comment meetings to be held electronically. As COVID-19 cases decrease in Utah and more meetings transition back to being held in person, the DWR is proposing a rule change to allow for flexibility in creating a new protocol for its public meetings, the release states. This change will allow a hybrid approach of electronic and in-person meetings.
Ashley Green, DWR assistant director, said in the release that they saw added flexibility and efficiency from adapting the virtual meeting format last year.
“But we also recognize the importance of accommodating in-person attendance and comments at our meetings,” Green said. “We hope to accommodate more of the public by combining both of these approaches with all of our public meetings going forward.”
While the new hybrid approach for public meetings is being proposed, the current meetings regarding these proposals will only be held virtually. You can view the biologists’ presentations and share your feedback about them here on the DWR website. The presentations can also be viewed on the DWR YouTube Channel, but comments can only be submitted through the forms on the DWR website.
The public comment period for each of the five Regional Advisory Council meetings and for the Utah Wildlife Board meeting opened on May 4. Public comments submitted within the online-comment timeframes listed below will be shared with the council and wildlife board members at each respective meeting.
While members of the public can watch a livestream of each of the council meetings and the Utah Wildlife Board meeting, public comments will not be accepted during these electronic meetings.
The electronic meetings will be held on the following dates and times:
- Southern Utah RAC meeting: May 18 at 7 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Thursday at 11:59 p.m.)
- Southeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 19 at 6:30 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Thursday at 11:59 p.m.)
- Northeastern Utah RAC meeting: May 20 at 6:30 p.m. (Public comments must be submitted by Thursday at 11:59 p.m.)
- Utah Wildlife Board meeting: June 3 at 9 a.m. (Public comments must be submitted by May 27 at 11:59 p.m.)
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