Utah -(Ammoland.com)- Thousands of tundra swans are flying into northern Utah right now.
During a Nov. 4 survey flown over marshes on the northeastern shore of Great Salt Lake, Blair Stringham spotted more than 25,000 swans. And more are on their way.
“If you're one of the 2,000 hunters who drew a swan hunting permit in Utah,” says Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, “now is the perfect time to head to the marsh.”
The DWR usually flies its weekly swan surveys on Tuesday mornings. You can keep track of swans by visiting the swan web page.
Utah's swan hunting season ends Dec. 13.
Bear River Refuge is a good choice
To protect trumpeter swans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Utah Wildlife Board have closed some areas to swan hunting. The closed area includes all of Utah north of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and north of Forest Street (the road leading from Brigham City to the refuge).
Many of the swans Stringham saw on the morning of Nov. 4 were on the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
Most of the swans Stringham saw on the refuge were on units that are closed to hunting. When swans leave the closed units, though, they often fly over areas at the refuge that are open to hunting.
If you visit the refuge, please remember that Bear River is a federal refuge. Some of the rules at the refuge are different than rules at areas managed by the state.
More information is available on pages 23 and 24 of the 2015–2016 Utah Waterfowl Guidebook.
If you drew a swan hunting permit, Stringham encourages you to spend time watching the swans and learning their flight patterns. Tundra swans are very consistent in the times of day they fly and the routes they take.
Ice-up is another thing to watch for. As the water starts to freeze, swans will be in the air more, searching for areas that still have open water.
Three factors — hunting pressure, changes in the weather and the availability of food — can change a swan's flight pattern, though.
Swan hunting reminders
If you drew a swan permit, please remember the following. These requirements help the DWR and the USFWS obtain an accurate count of the number of trumpeter swans that are accidentally taken by hunters:
Within 72 hours of taking a swan, you must take your bird or its head to a DWR office, or the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, so it can be examined and measured.
You must complete a harvest questionnaire no later than Jan. 12, 2016. The questionnaire must be completed, even if you don't hunt swans or take a swan.
You can access the questionnaire online. You can also complete it by calling 1-800-221-0659.
If you don't do the items above, you can't apply for a swan permit in 2016