Hunters Corner

CHUKAR FORECAST

Good news, chukar hunters: The number of chukar partridge in Utah keeps climbing.

During a helicopter survey over western Box Elder County, Division of Wildlife Resources Biologists counted 16 chukars per square mile.  That’s almost double the nine chukars per square mile they spotted in the previous year.

DWR Upland Game Coordinator Jason Robinson is optimistic that fellow biologists will find similar results when they fly over central Tooele County soon.

In 2012, a total of 46 chukars per square were spotted in central Tooele County.  The 46 chukars per square mile were the most chukars DWR biologists had seen in the area since 2006.  “The number of chukar partridge is definitely climbing in Utah,” Robinson says.

While Robinson isn’t predicting an outstanding chukar hunt in Utah this fall, he says “the hunt will definitely be better than it was last fall.”

Those 15 years of age and younger can hunt chukars on Sept. 21 during Utah’s annual youth partridge hunt.  After Sept. 21, the hunt will close until Sept. 28 when Utah’s general hunt, for hunters of all ages, opens up.

The news for gray partridge isn’t as good.  Gray partridge (also known as Hungarian partridge) are found mostly on or near agricultural land in Box Elder County.

The biologist says the number of grays is quite a bit lower than it was last fall.  Robinson says 2012 was a really good year for gray partridge.  “Agricultural land, especially land enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program, is very important to the birds,” he says.  “I’m not certain why the birds aren’t doing as well this year, but numbers are definitely down.”

Chukars doing well statewide

Findings from the Aug. 29 helicopter survey match what members of a Brigham Young University chukar research team and DWR field biologists have seen in Utah this year — chukar partridge numbers appear to be up in chukar habitat across the state.

Robinson says weather conditions since last fall have been good for chukars:  Rain and snow in November allowed cheatgrass to “green up” before winter arrived, providing plenty of food for adult birds.  This past winter, temperatures were fairly moderate and snowfall was fairly light in most of the areas in Utah where chukars live above the wintertime temperature inversion.  This allowed plenty of adult birds to survive.   Hot, dry weather greeted newly hatched chicks in June.  That weather allowed the chicks to grow in size before rain fell in July. Plenty of rain in July provided plenty of vegetation and insects for the chicks to eat.

BIRD DOGS: A CHUKAR HUNTERS PASSION

Bird Dogs and UCWF members go hand in hand, and we’d like you to have a place on the web. Here our members can post for sale ads, post dog obituaries, tout your dogs accomplishments, or just post up a story. (Contact Caleb @ crittercontrolofslc@comcast.net for more information.)

BANDED CHUKAR & SAGE GROUSE

Utah has a very important Chukar and Guzzler study going on in Utah’s West Desert all the way from the Pony Express Trail in central Utah up to the Idaho border.   Also, Greater Sage Grouse are being studied with collars/telemetry to determine many survival factors.

How can you help?

A major part of this study is putting unique colored bands on Chukar so that they can be photographed, and individually identified, at guzzlers.   Sage Grouse will be fitted with aluminum leg bands and/or telemetry collars.

You can help by recording band information and other data, and returning the bands, if you shoot a banded bird. Similarly, return transmitters with some additional data.

Finally, you would really be doing Utah Chukar populations and Chukar hunters a favor for the future - if you would leave the area if you start shooting banded/transmittered birds. The banded birds you don’t shoot for the next couple of years may result in greatly improved Chukar management practices in Utah.

Also, to minimize shooting banded/collared Sage Grouse NEVER shoot the first bird that comes up in a flock of grouse. Preliminary studies indicate this “first bird flushed” may very well be an adult brood hen, detrimental to the population.

DATA NEEDED ON BANDED AND TRANSMITTER BIRDS:

1. Return the transmitter; it has the unique identifying number on it and the data can only be gathered via the transmitter.

2. For bands, please return the bands. We also need to know the color of the bands on the bird’s right leg and the bird’s left leg, starting from the bottom. (E.G.: Right leg: Red, then yellow. Left Leg: White, then blue). [Again, recording from the bottom of each leg and then up].  The number(s) are needed off Sage Grouse bands.

3. The date & time the bird was taken, the collector’s name and phone number, and GPS coordinates would be extremely helpful to the study. If you cannot do GPS coordinates, then a verbal description will do.

4. If you will call or email the following, we can arrange for pickup:

A. Randy Larsen, BYU Professor. 801.361.7692. randy_larsen@byu.edu

B. Justin Bingham, USU Graduate Student, Study Coordinator, r.j.bing@aggiemail.usu.edu

HUNTERS: THE CHUKARS BIGGEST SUPPORTER

The UCWF members are made up of biologists, bird watchers, wildlife lovers and hunters alike.

Much of the success of the Chukar Partridge can be contributed to the help of the Hunter.

The hunter has donated countless dollars and data to help the cause; we’d like to THANK YOU! Please continue to be a key player in sound wildlife management and conservation.