DWR officials are asking hunters in the Zion hunting unit to stop at check stations where they can demonstrate their efforts to help California condors and enter to win a prize.
Officials said that during the month of October, the DWR operates check stations where big game hunters must either show the non-lead ammunition they used during their hunts or provide proof they removed all the remains of their harvested animals from the field.
Hunters who provide evidence of their efforts to help the endangered condors can enter to win one of five $800 gift cards, donated by The Peregrine Fund, for outdoor equipment.
In 2011, a program known as Hunters Helping Condors launched in Utah to help recover these large, majestic birds. California condors were listed in 1967 under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act.
By 1982, only 23 were left in the world.
While one of those condors was already in captivity, the remaining wild condors were captured and brought into captivity to keep them safe. This reportedly brought about a highly successful breeding program that allowed for the condor’s reintroduction to the wild.
Their population is now over 500. Over half of them are in the wild, the DWR said.
Earlier this year, however, 21 condors died in the Arizona/Utah population due to the avian flu. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with multiple state agencies and federal and non-profit partners, are currently conducting vaccine trials to help these birds.
“Lead poisoning is the leading cause of death for free-flying condors in Utah and Arizona,” DWR Avian Conservation Program Coordinator Russell Norvell said. “The primary source of that lead is the remains of shot animals, a common meal for condors and other scavenging wildlife. The Hunters Helping Condors program is helping to reduce lead exposure, which is helping in the recovery of these unique birds that play an important role in the ecosystem.”
Check stations are in place at the following locations, open from 11 a.m. to dusk on the following dates, according to the DWR:
- The intersection of Yellowjacket Road and Hancock Road (approximately 3.25 miles north of the entrance to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park). This checkpoint will be open on Oct. 11, 14-15, 21-24 and 28-29.
- On State Route 14 in Cedar Canyon (east of Cedar City, approximately half a mile east of Canyon Park and nearly a mile west of Rusty’s Ranch House). This checkpoint will be open on Oct. 11, 14-15, 21-24 and 28-29.
Utah big game hunters have the opportunity to obtain a coupon before each hunting season that offers heavily discounted, non-lead ammunition.