Disclamer: this podcast has been transcribed from the original audio and likely contains errors. This transcription does not reflect the views and opinions of Epic Outdoors LLC. Please consult the original audio with any concerns.
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Hill a freaking stud. Heavy, big old I guarded.
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Happy to be a great moisture year. I drew in at 10.
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Know there, there are fun opportunities for almost with anyone out there every year.
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Anything to do with Western Mid-Game.
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Welcome to the Epic Outdoors Podcast, powered by Under Armour. Here we are today with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Greg Sheehan. How are you today, Greg?
00:00:28:04 –> 00:00:34:00
I’m well. Good. It’s good to talk with you, Adam, and share some thoughts with your listeners today.
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Well, I appreciate your time, Greg. I know it’s a busiest time of year with the legislature and whatnot going on, but yesterday as, as you well know, you signed an emergency order regarding Utah shed antler closure. So could you just go into maybe some of the rationale, and I’m sure there’s a lot of, a lot of thought that went into that ’cause it’s not something that, you know, probably wasn’t gonna be well received in some regards, but tell us some of the reasonings for that and what we’re trying to do and accomplish.
00:01:03:28 –> 00:02:05:06
Sure. Well, first of all, you know, I, I did sign an emergency order yesterday that that closed down shed antler collections on, on all lands in Utah, including private property. But that would, would take effect from what our normal opener is. Would’ve been the 1st of February here, second of February-ish timeframe up until the end of, through the end of March. So the first time that shed honey would open again, would be on April 1st. And the reasoning behind that is in northern Utah, we’ve had quite a severe winter, a lot of frequent snowfall, repetitive storm patterns that, that just kept piling up the snow wasn’t really giving it a chance to melt off or to, you know, subside a little bit so the animals could move around. And the first action that we took, and this goes back to about mid-January, was up in Rich County up near the Idaho border there, we, we went into some emergency deer feeding.
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The, the deer were stranded. They couldn’t get the food sources, the sources were covered up and we knew we’d be losing a lot of deer if we couldn’t help out. So we began some feeding there and then these storms persisted and eventually we got into the point where, where we expanded our feeding to quite a few more areas in northern parts of Utah. As we came into the end of the month of January, realized that soon we’d have people out participating in shed aler hunting at the 1st of February. And we really didn’t want to have that sort of pressure be applied. We just coming off from hunts, some hunts that were ending for the year, we really wanted to give these animals a break and not have them be pursued. So we look at, looked at the sort of the top of Utah, these counties that were the worst off and, and, and took some action to, to shut that down.
00:02:56:29 –> 00:03:29:26
And here as we moved through the week, made a decision to shut the entire state down. We didn’t want to be pushing individuals throughout the state and, and who, who might be, you know, hunting antlers one place and moving to another. We said, let’s just give our wildlife a break. We’ve had heavier than normal snow packs all throughout the state of Utah this year. We sure need the water, it’s gonna be great for, you know, some of the habitat work that we’re doing around the state. But at some point we, we just need to let up on these animals and give them, give ’em a little bit of a break.
00:03:31:03 –> 00:04:34:19
Yeah, I really agree. Obviously we live down here in southern Utah where we’ve had a lot of warmer storms. We, the upper elevations have a lot of snow, but some of the winter ranges aren’t quite as deep like you guys have up north. That was one of the concerns that I did have, or some people voiced us, I should say, after the initial Northern Utah closure was, well, geez, now southern Utah is gonna get hammered with everybody else. And so this kind of makes it fairly clear now statewide till April 1st and thinks a good good change just to give them a break. Our deer herds have been doing real well. We haven’t had any big winters for several winters, which has allowed us to grow fawns and grow deer. And we’re finally got a winner now and let’s, let’s try to maintain the momentum we’ve had. I think so we applaud the effort and hopefully everybody just can relax. I know that’s hard to do, but some people may have a lot of plans in place, all that for the spring. But you know, this just one of those things that’s, it’s better for the deer and elk, no question. So.
00:04:35:12 –> 00:05:21:28
Well, absolutely, and you know, Adam, you, you being a professionally trained wildlife biologist, understand as, as well as anybody that, you know, the extra drain that’s put on these animals just for, for us to, to come up on some deer and watch ’em run up on the hill and, and, and think, well, they’ll come back down after I’m gone. Well, that may be true, but in the, in these heavier snows just, you know, that extra bit of energy that it’s expended there, there’s a price to pay for that on the, on the fat reserves and the energy that these animals have. And you know, they’re already in a, in a state every winter where they, you know, burn down the, the, the body fat that they’ve, you know, built up over the, the summer and fall months. So I think this is a good thing and you know, I’ve really appreciated the sportsman have come back.
00:05:22:00 –> 00:05:51:22
I thought, wow, they’re gonna, there’s be a lot of anger out there and you know, most everything we’ve had has been positive and saying, you know, just make sure you’ve got law enforcement people out there following up and, and we’ve, you know, we’ve been working with our law enforcement folks. They get it, they understand it and they’re, they’re gonna be out, you know, monitoring that really even better than our law enforcement people to be able to, you know, be everywhere and every time on landscapes, you’ve got a lot of other folks kind of keep an eye on these treasure ours and this wildlife. So
00:05:57:26 –> 00:06:50:18
Absolutely, because our deer herds are better off in the last several years. I think that the, the deer hunts most recently have reflected that and so hopefully they see the bigger picture on this. One thing you obviously mentioned was some of the feeding efforts going on in northern Utah, and maybe you can talk about that just a little bit. I, I know there’s plenty of people that try to do their part, think that they hear about it, see, see a blurb on the news or a news release that you guys put out about feeding. And so their initial inclination is, oh, I’m gonna start helping and doing that. But that can actually do more harm than good in some cases. And, and tell, tell us all, I guess how you guys would like to see any volunteer help actually help out instead of, you know, people kind of doing their own thing and how that may complicate cape some of your efforts that you guys got going on.
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Sure. You know, one of the things we hear a lot as well, the wildlife are in trouble, so I’ll help feed them. Maybe they’re in their backyards or they see ’em somewhere to all get food. And I think for, you know, many years we’ve said, don’t go feeding these deer hay in different things because it really can, can hurt them. You know, they, they have a very different digestive system than a elk or, or than cattle do. Even though they will eat hay, it doesn’t mean they can live off hay. We run into, you know, just last year we had a, a landowner approach us and say, you know, I’ve had all this hay out, the deer been in there and, and had a whole hillside, a dead deer. And we went and looked at those and it’s just simply because these, these, these deer cannot adapt on hay like say an elk can.
00:07:37:03 –> 00:08:27:13
So there is a, a, a, a special blend of food that we use and it’s, it’s really developed for deer who are in a stress situation that come in the winter has the right blend of proteins and, and other elements that a deer can instantly digest appropriately and then also allow it to, to move on to spring feed as soon as it’s time. So the, the the, the, the second part of the challenge is people say, well, can I go buy the feed and, and feed ’em myself? And certainly, you know, if you’re gonna have feed out there, we’d rather that you have the proper feed out there. But I would say this and, and I think most people understand this and, but just to reiterate, there’s other risks with feeding. Even if we can feed somewhere and keep some animals alive, we only do it on very severe winters.
00:08:27:13 –> 00:09:18:08
We have a pet and deer since 2008 when you start feeding deer one, you habituate ’em to an area and they’re gonna want to come back just like want that, you know, the, the best female out there that causes problems because then they, they be want to become dependent on that. They’ll, they’ll congregate in these areas. They’ll do, you know, range damage in in particular areas because they won’t leave an area. And then the second thing is we worry about disease issues. You know, if, if there’s diseases moving around, whether it’s the more severe CWD or even something a lot less, you know, risky to a big population, when you get all these animals rubbing noses and hanging out together, it’s easy just like with humans, the spread of disease. So we’d rather keep ’em spread out on those hill sides instead of all standing there together.
00:09:18:26 –> 00:10:03:18
So that’s another thing that we worry about. And then lastly, I guess we worry about, about the risks associated with creating urban deer situations. You know, these deer migrate outta the mountains in a heavy winter, we start feeding them in and around houses and spring comes and they think, you know what? The food get here, the neighborhood’s not bad and they don’t wanna go back in the mountains and then we end up having to, to kill them or they, you know, they’re never available for the public, you know, during hunting season. So there’s a lot of reasons we just don’t want people to do feeding and what we, where we do it, we’re doing it away from, from in most cases away from people and houses and those sorts of things. So we don’t create the wrong sense of what’s going on out there.
00:10:04:19 –> 00:10:36:07
That’s a lot of very good information there, Greg. And if there are cases that the Utah D W r or other the sportsman groups, you know, I’ve read here the Mul Deer Foundation, sportsman for Fish Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, have all, you know, been helping biologists obviously from a financial standpoint as well as maybe, you know, labor. But are there ways, should I, is the best way to maybe just contact either one of those organizations or a one of the central and northern region offices of the Utah Wildlife Resources?
00:10:37:08 –> 00:11:25:05
Yep, absolutely. You can look up our phone numbers depending where you’re at in the state. We’ve got regional offices throughout the state. You can call us, you can call those groups. They’re all familiar with what’s going on and I really want to take a moment and do a shout out to those groups and other individuals. But a Mul Deer Foundation, sportsman for Fish Wildlife, Rocky Mountain Foundation, they’re all out on the ground. We’ve got great volunteers that are coming out every day where we are doing that feeding and they’re helping out, they’re using their own time and, and, and gas and certainly we’re providing the food, but they, they really have done a great job. And the other shout I want shout out that I’d like to do is to the, the private property owners and ranchers that really help accommodate and house a lot of this wildlife on their properties at this time of year.
00:11:26:04 –> 00:11:59:13
You know, they’ll get into a lot of times hay or just create, you know, different sorts of frustration and, and I don’t think most people out there really realize how much these private landowners are willing to, to take, you know, during the course of a year to help these animals out. And then they’re back out on the mountains, you know, at times when it’s hunting season and all. But we really rely on, on those folks and, and like I said, our volunteers who’ve done such a good job of, of helping us out when we need it. You know, we can always count on the sportsman to be there first when we need a hand.
00:12:00:23 –> 00:12:22:19
Very, very good stuff, Greg. And I guess lastly, your the Utah big game once a lifetime application period’s open right now, deadline of March 2nd, I assume you probably with the Western Hunting Conservation Expo coming up, the Utah D W R normally has a, a pretty good sized booth there to maybe answer questions as well. Are you guys gonna be there again this year?
00:12:24:01 –> 00:13:29:23
Absolutely. We’ll be there and we’d love to have people stop by and, you know, share information, answer questions and you know, we, we try to be there and a lot of the other smaller shows and expos around the state as well. So we’re always glad to talk to our public. You know, sometimes the, the worst problem we have is the rumor mill is so wrong out there and given us a chance to help set it straight really is is a great opportunity for us to, to straighten the record on a lot of things because misinformation just gets, sometimes gets people confused or, or wound up when they maybe don’t need to be. So yeah, it, it is that time year to apply for the drawn. Now we’ve been talking about the hard winter and all, but I think most of our wildlife in the state’s gonna come through pretty good. I think we’ve addressed the right risks and and threats out there where they existed to help, you know, knock the edge off some of that. And between everybody pitching in, I think we’re gonna have another great, a great hunt next fall and would encourage you to, to apply for those permits and you know, I enjoy the wonderful resource that we have here in Utah.
00:13:31:06 –> 00:14:01:13
Well Greg, I really appreciate your time today and really p appreciate the clarity you’ve been able to offer on the shed antler closure and some of the feeding efforts going on in the state because like you said, I’m sure this is caught a lot of people off guard at some extent and really shed some light on the reasons for it. We applaud it, we think it’s a good move. And I guess last but not least, good luck in the draw yourself this year. I know you’re an avid hunter and sportsman and appreciate all you do for Utah’s Wildlife. Thanks a lot for being on with us today.
00:14:02:04 –> 00:14:32:25
I am, and you know what, I have 19 elk points, so one of these days I better draw something as well, but, but there’s a lot of opportunities even with a lot less points than that. So I hope people will take advantage of, you know, look at, look getting our odds, but look around, you know, they, they’re hunt opportunities for almost anyone out there every year. So take advantage of those and thank you so much Adam for having me on your show and gimme a chance to, to talk with some of your listeners a little bit about, about what’s, what’s happening with our wildlife here in Utah.
00:14:33:01 –> 00:14:36:05
Alright, thanks again, again, Greg. I really appreciate it and take care.
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Okay, we’ll see. See ya. Thanks. Bye.