Chukar Partridge to be released across Utah in
SALT LAKE CITY — During mid-September, the Division of Wildlife Resources will release about 4,000 chukar partridge throughout Utah. Adult pen-reared birds will be released as part of a continued effort to provide more hunting opportunity for Utah's upland game sportsmen.
Since the closing of the DWR's last game farm in 1993, many Utah upland game hunters have expressed an interest in seeing some of their license funds used to propagate game birds for release into the wild for hunting. The DWR started limited releases of chukar partridge again in 1997.
The DWR is not operating a game farm of its own, as was the case until 1993. Instead, birds for release will be grown by a Utah game bird producer, purchased under contract by the DWR and released into the wild. Chukars will be released into areas of Utah where the DWR has constructed new game bird water guzzlers using Habitat Funds and areas where chukar populations have been depressed because of severe drought or winter conditions.
Over the past several years, the DWR has constructed hundreds of new 350-gallon game bird and small mammal guzzlers in the best chukar habitat of Utah's desert country. Guzzlers have been installed on many west desert mountain ranges, from the Utah-Idaho border to the Mohave Desert of Washington County in the very southwestern corner of the state. The new guzzler design allows the watering devices to be placed in the roughest and rockiest habitats Utah has to offer—ideal for the chukar partridge.
The new guzzlers are placed in long narrow canyons with steep, rocky slopes providing good escape cover for chukars. Complexes of four to six guzzlers are built approximately one-mile apart in an area. Biologists then move down the mountain range a couple of miles and build another guzzler complex. The idea behind the guzzler construction scheme is to place water where birds would normally look for water and to provide enough water in an area so birds can move from day to day to forage and still be in close proximity to drinking water.
Pen-reared chukars will be released in the following areas of Utah in mid-September:
Countyand release area
A portion of the chukars that will be released will be banded with aluminum leg bands. Hunters who harvest banded birds should phone information to the DWR at the telephone number printed on the band. Biologists will use information collected from band returns to assess released bird returns to the hunter's bag, survival information and dispersion of birds into preferred habitats.
Because of safety concerns for potentially overcrowding areas with hunters, and because of the sensitivity of the location of guzzler sites being used by wildlife, the DWR will not provide maps of specific guzzler site locations or more specific release information than that listed above.
Chukars are an exotic bird, 15 inches in length and weighing 20 ounces. They are native to places like India and Afghanistan in the Middle East. The chukar partridge inhabits some of the most inhospitable habitat Utah has to offer. Chukars are found in the barren desert areas of the state and prefer steep, rocky, arid slopes. Low growing shrubs such as sagebrush, saltbush and cheatgrass vegetative zones above and below the juniper tree belt seem to be preferred. Talus and rocky slopes provide chukars with concealment and escape cover. Foods consist of grass seeds, weed seeds, buds, flowers and, in the winter, new growth cheatgrass. Male and female chukars are mostly identical in appearance, except male birds often have a "button-like" spur on the back of the leg.
The 2003 chukar season opens Sept. 20, 2003 and runs through Jan. 31, 2004 in some areas of Utah. Both males and females are hunted. The bag limit is five birds and the possession limit is 10.
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