Utah’s wildlife received a $1.3 million gift recently. The gift came courtesy of Utah’s conservation permit program. Here’s how the program works:
- The Division of Wildlife Resources allocates a small number of big game, black bear, cougar and turkey hunting permits to conservation organizations in Utah.
- The groups auction the permits at their yearly banquets.
- After auctioning the permits, at least 90 percent of the money the groups raise must be used on DWR-approved projects that benefit Utah’s wildlife.
Seven groups received conservation permits in 2011: Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, the Mule Deer Foundation, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Safari Club International, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Utah Bowman’s Association.
On April 11, representatives from the seven groups met with DWR biologists to decide which projects the money would be used to fund. A total of 66 projects received more than $1.3 million in funding.
Mike Canning, Habitat Section chief for the DWR, says allowing these groups to auction the permits is a windfall for Utah’s wildlife. “The amount of money that ends up going into on-the-ground work to help wildlife across Utah is astounding,” he says.
Canning gives some examples of how conservation permit funds are used:
- Much of the money the conservation permit program generates each year funds habitat projects that are part of Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative.The initiative started in 2005. Since it began, more than $76 million has been used to restore more than 778,000 acres of wildlife habitat across the state.
The conservation permit program provided more than $5.4 million of the $76 million.
“Our goal is to restore at least 100,000 acres a year so we’re providing Utah’s wildlife with the food, cover and other habitat items the wildlife need,” Canning says.
- To transplant bighorn sheep.
- To survey Utah’s elk herds from the air.
- To conduct research projects, such as determining why the growth of Utah’s moose population has slowed in recent years.
- To build more water collection devices called “guzzlers.” Guzzlers provide additional water to wildlife species in some of Utah’s driest areas.
- To learn more about the best ways to construct wildlife-crossing structures. These structures are vital in helping deer and other wildlife safely cross some of Utah’s most heavily traveled roads.
photo: Lynn Chamberlain