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February 12, 2020



PILT PAYMENT • Jason Vernon, DWR Regional Supervisor, left, presents Richard Hansen, county commissioner, a check for PILT payment for the year.

By Myrna Trauntvein

TN Correspondent

Jason Vernon, Regional Supervisor in the Central Region for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR), presented Juab County with a $5,707.84 PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for the year.

During the July 2019 annual Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conference held in Manhattan, Kansas, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Director Mike Fowlks was voted as the president of the organization.

He wrote commissioners a letter addressing the work done which Vernon presented to the commission.

“He has a map for you that identifies habitat projects,” said Vernon.

Fowlks is also the director sponsor for the Mule Deer Working Group. The group will be writing a comprehensive book about mule deer, something that hasn’t happened in nearly four decades. It also worked on five new fact sheets on various topics including historical and current deer populations and determining the age of mule deer.

Vernon said that DWR has concerns with the local deer herd populations because of the fire last season.

Fire restoration had been done on more than 40,000 acres.

“I hike on Mount Nebo,” said Richard Hansen, commissioner. “On a recent trip I spotted a mountain lion and two cubs that sat back in scrub oak. In addition, 20-feet to the side of me was a bear.”

He said that, in his opinion, there were eight to ten bear to one elk. There are also moose in the mountains.

“If the herd gets so depressed, predators are a danger to the herd building back,” Hansen said. “I got frustrated when I was on the RAC.”

Vernon said that DWR was working with BYU and USU on a research project and had done so for the last six to seven years. The best measure of how well the herd will manage during the winter is how they are in the fall.

“We measure rump fat and also the weights of the newborns,” said Vernon. “One thing we saw is that the herd is down. We have had two summers of dry drought climate followed by harsh winters.”

Deer lose body fat in the winter and ranges are not available.

“The three big predators are bear, mountain lions and coyotes,” he said.

To help, Fowlks had increased the tax.

The association is also currently working with several federal land management agencies to identify important winter range and migration routes for deer so they can improve the deer’s ability to reach the critical winter and summer habitats they need.

“Deer have been collared,” said Vernon. “When they die we go collect the collars.”

The cause of death, as far as can be determined, is listed.

Clinton Painter, commission chairman, said that he had seen 14 different bears in one area.

Though brown bears are often perceived as carnivores, they are actually omnivorous. Depending on season, habitat, and region, they can eat grasses, berries, sedges, fungi, mosses, roots, nuts, fruits, honey, insects, birds, and fish.

He said they will eat young deer if they are hungry.

“We have a question,” said Vernon. “Could we use one of your buildings for predator control payments?”

The DWR predator-control program provides incentives for hunters to remove coyotes. Participants receive up to $50 for each properly documented coyote that they kill in Utah.

“I would make a motion to approve waiving the fee for use of the building,” said Painter.

Hansen said that he had been told that in the sand ledges DWR had killed 200 coyotes.

Vernon said that it was difficult to know what sort of losses the cattlemen had because the livestock owners could not always verify their losses. However, starting this year, a more comprehensive plan was being used which might result in more compensation for livestock owners.

“Have you collared elk in our area?” asked Hansen.

The collars found that the elk were very migratory, Vernon said.

“The elk on Nebo move a lot,” said Vernon. “Some of the elk from Nebo were found north of Fairview but there are not a lot of predators that kill elk.”

It could be done, said Hansen. One coyote clapped his jaws over the nose of an elk and hung on until it smothered.