1. The hunting units in Utah are rather large and the harvest stats many times
are sub-units of the main units which makes it hard to determine what units are
producing good numbers and which are marginal. Colorado has smaller units and
the units are the same for both deer and elk and the harvest stats directly
corrispond to the defined hunting units. I would suggest matching the harvest
stats to the hunting units and perhaps makeing the units smaller to allow
2. Possible convert some of the any bull elk units to 4 points or better. Spike
hunting is generally available in the spike only areas so changing the any bull
units to 4 point or better will improve the overall herd quality by insuring
that the cows have a good chance of getting bread each year which would improve
production. During my 2001 hunt on the South Slope of Unita's I
saw several cows that didn't have calves with them.
3. Provide a way to make improvements in winter range using hunter resources.
I agree with the winter range deal. I think this state could have a much bigger elk herd if they had more winter range. Something needs to be done, even if its just more places like hardware ranch that feed the elk during the winter. Problem is that usually only supports 500 or so elk. Thats not really a solution when talking about 65,000 head in the state and wanting to increase it. More of a tourist attraction. Winter range is a big issue for the future of elk here in Utah.
Not I don’t have any biologists information. If you think the drought is bad here you should see it in Colorado. I was there in May of 2002 and the place looked like scorched earth. It looked like what you would see in the middle of August. Yet Colorado still has one of the largest Elk herds in the Nation and they keep selling extra tags to try and reduce the herd but can't seem to make a dent. Elk are very resourceful animals. And they will find the food and water they need to survive if it is available.
The kind of winter range improvement that I am talking about is improving the natural habitat by improving water to the area and limiting the grazing of cattle on these critical ranges.
It just bothers me to see the state issue extra cow tags during a drought year because they are afraid of what a hard winter would do to the herd. With proper winter range we can increase the herd size even with drought years and hard winters.
It seems odd to me that UT only has 65k head when CO is pushing 300k (which is the biggest elk population anywhere). With respect to climate and habitat the states are basically the same and the land area is probably close.
The wide swaths of national park land in CO may push elk herds here above surrounding states, because it increases unhuntable land. Elk populations soar through the roof in these regions, adding to the total elk count, but doing little to increase huntable elk.
The drought has hit certain units harder than others, particularly across most of the southern units where the drought has been deeper and longer than the rest of the state. The northwest has been in drought but not as much as other regions, the northwest I believe has more per capita elk than the surrounding units.
Bitmasher there are 2 reasons for the 65k head of elk. The state capacity is 67k so we are almost at objective.
1. Even though Utah has some very high mountains with great elk habitat a large portion of the state is desert.
2. The biggest limiting factor in my mind is winter range which for elk is horrible. The elk drop down in the winter and nearly every good range is inhabited by people or fenced of for farm land. When the elk come down and cross the fences farmers chase them off which only adds stress to the animals.
I am very jealous at the herd you guys have over there but if you know where to go around here its still pretty good hunting.
That is interesting, I didn't know the carrying capacity is 67k.
In terms of winter range problems are you talking about the Salt Lake, Provo, Ogden area? Meaning these towns continue to grow into winter range. I remember reading somewhere that Salt Lake has a lot of elk roaming around it in the winter.
I think you mentioned once that you hunt east of Vernal. If that is the case I imagine that the elk density in that area is comparable to northwest CO. The habitat in the area is similar.
You're right about the region near the Colorado border, there is excellent elk hunting over there. The three corners unit and the Diamond mountain unit are very good along with the Book Cliffs. Very difficult to draw a tag though so I hunt the border of those units. Lots of elk there too, been successful last 3 hunts in a row.
The reason why there is a lot of elk there is cause of the relatively low human pop density and not a lot of hunting pressure. Near Salt Lake the city is crawling up the foothills all along the Wasatch front, its a pretty sad deal. The elk drop down into Salt Lake like you said and people just add stress to the animals chasing them out but we've left nowhere for them to go. Because the elk cause problems the DWR just issues more tags. We have a lot of good habitat, just nowhere for them to go in the winter. I think we could have well into 100,000 if we had a solution.
[ This Message was edited by: rather_be_huntin on 2003-05-06 23:57 ]
Yeah it is hard to draw a tag in the CO units that border that area of Utah as well. Unit 201 comes to mind.
Your right the three corners area is great because the population density is very low.
Not sure what to tell you about the Salt Lake problem. I have been in that area a few times and it is pretty and is also classic elk winter range. Unfortunately there is probably little hope of limiting growth; however the state could try purchasing what's left of the winter range as open space.
CO has a program where a certain percentage of the state lottery revenue goes directly into purchasing open space that cannot be developed. This has been helpful in curtailing spawl in certain areas around CO's front range (which has very bad spawl).
If some of the winter range could be purchased, people might enjoy using it in the summer for recreation (hiking, biking) and it would serve the elk in the winter....
When hunting whitetails there are many different languages being spoken afield that I key on when outdoors. All these little creatures living around whitetails have something to tell us if we are willing to listen.
My favorite tattletales of the outdoors are a handful of little birds that live in my state of Ohio. Maybe yours too. A tip for the upcoming season.
There are Blue Jays, Cardinals, Chickadees, Killdeer, and Sparrows that all have language...