U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



August 16, 1996

Sharon Rose 303-236-7905
Al Trout 801-723-5887

Tundra Swan Season Redesigned To Help Prevent Crippling of Birds

With the opening of the 1996 waterfowl hunting season, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge will not only be adding another 460 acres to the hunting area, but it will introduce refuge hunters to some new tundra swan hunt guidelines, designed to prevent crippling of birds and to provide a high quality hunt to the increasing number of sportsmen who use the refuge each year.

A public meeting to describe the improvements and areas of the refuge affected is scheduled for August 28 from 7pm to 9pm at the Box Elder High School auditorium. An informal Open House will follow on August 29 from 2pm to 8pm in the Brigham City Crystal Inn. Refuge personnel will visit personally with local residents on the new improvements.

During the 1995 hunt, the Refuge staff noticed numerous violations that tainted the shining example of high quality, fair pursuit, sportsman-like conduct that migratory bird hunters at Bear River Refuge have exhibited in past years.

Skybusting, which is the practice of shooting at high flying birds, was observed many times last year, said Al Trout, Bear River s Refuge Manager. This indiscriminate shooting ends up crippling a large number of birds, rather than the intended outcome that all sportsmen strive to achieve, which is that of clean, direct kills, with no unnecessary waste, Trout added. In addition to skybusting, shooting from the main dike road, party hunting and hunting without a permit were cited. It was believed that unless all of these issues were quickly addressed, the reputation that had gained Utah s Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge its place as one of the premier waterfowl hunting areas in the United States could be destroyed.

In considering how to once again make hunting at Bear River Refuge a quality experience, several alternatives were considered. It was the goal of those responsible for the refuge hunting program to not only address and solve these most recent problems, but to do so with as little impact as possible to the majority of hunters who observe the basic ethics practiced by sportsmen in Utah. After careful consideration, the following refuge-specific regulations were submitted for the 1996 hunting season. These regulations are in effect only on the Refuge, and do not pertain to statewide regulations.

  1. No hunting or shooting is permitted within 100 yards of principal refuge roads (the tour road).
  2. While in the field, hunters shall possess and use only nontoxic shot.
  3. Airboats are permitted only in Unit 9 and block C.
  4. Use of pit or permanent blinds is not permitted.
  5. The Refuge, including parking sites, is closed 2 hours after sunset (end of shooting hours). Decoys, boats, vehicles and other personal property may not be left on the Refuge overnight.
  6. Parking is permitted in designated parking sites only.
  7. Hunters who take or attempt to take tundra swans must possess a Utah State Swan Permit and may not possess or use more than 10 shells per day while hunting swans.
  8. Any person entering, using or occupying the Refuge for waterfowl hunting must abide by all the terms and conditions in the Refuge hunting brochure.

The restriction to 10 shells per day pertains specifically to swan hunting. No shell limits are in effect for duck, goose, and pheasant hunting.

Hunters are reminded that, unlike the State, Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines require that all firearms must be completely unloaded, including the magazine, and cased or dismantled when hunters are in the vehicle or while on principal Refuge roads (the tour route) and parking sites.

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