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The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is part of the Utah Department of Natural Resources for the state of Utah in the United States. The mission of the Division of Wildlife Resources is to serve the people of Utah as trustee and guardian of the state's wildlife. In addition to managing and protecting Utah's wildlife, UDWR manages hunting and fishing opportunities within the state. Wikipedia.

Robinson J.D.,Utah Division of Wildlife Resources | Messmer T.A.,Utah State University
Human-Wildlife Interactions | Year: 2013

Declines in greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter, sagegrouse) populations in Utah over the last century parallel range-wide trends. However, little is known about the ecology of sage-grouse populations that inhabit Utah's naturally fragmented habitats. Utah's West Desert sage-grouse populations occupy sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) habitats that are geographically separated by the Great Salt Lake, and largely confined to the Sheeprock and Deep Creek watersheds. From 2005 to 2006, we monitored sagegrouse that were radio-collared in each watershed to determine the factors affecting the vital rates in these isolated populations. Livestock grazing by domestic cattle was the dominate land use, and mammalian predator control for livestock protection was conducted in both watersheds. Corvid control was conducted only in the Sheeprock watershed. During the study, we identified 6 leks that had not been previously documented. Seasonal migration patterns for individual radio-collared sage-grouse in both watersheds varied across the sites. Habitat structure metrics were similar at brood-rearing and random sites for both areas. Nesting and brood success and the ratio of chicks per successful brood were higher for both populations in 2005 than 2006. We attributed these annual differences in vital rates to seasonal variation in precipitation. Spring precipitation in 2005 was twice the 30-year average following a 5 year drought. However, chick recruitment estimates for both populations regardless of year were lower than reported in the published literature. Adult sage-grouse survival rate estimates in Sheeprock and Deep Creek watersheds were lower and higher, respectively, than published reports indicated. These differences may reflect a difference in meso-predators communities. Sage-grouse conservation strategies in both areas should continue to emphasize protection of brood-rearing and seasonal habitat, but the risk of population extirpation as a consequence of extended droughts predicted by climate change models and the invasion of small mesopredators may remain problematic for these populations.

Garlick M.J.,Utah State University | Powell J.A.,Utah State University | Hooten M.B.,Colorado State University | McFarlane L.R.,Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology | Year: 2011

A difficulty in using diffusion models to predict large scale animal population dispersal is that individuals move differently based on local information (as opposed to gradients) in differing habitat types. This can be accommodated by using ecological diffusion. However, real environments are often spatially complex, limiting application of a direct approach. Homogenization for partial differential equations has long been applied to Fickian diffusion (in which average individual movement is organized along gradients of habitat and population density). We derive a homogenization procedure for ecological diffusion and apply it to a simple model for chronic wasting disease in mule deer. Homogenization allows us to determine the impact of small scale (10-100 m) habitat variability on large scale (10-100 km) movement. The procedure generates asymptotic equations for solutions on the large scale with parameters defined by small-scale variation. The simplicity of this homogenization procedure is striking when compared to the multi-dimensional homogenization procedure for Fickian diffusion,and the method will be equally straightforward for more complex models. © 2010 Society for Mathematical Biology.

News Article | December 17, 2015
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Goats are smart. Some are even well-equipped enough to scale mountain peaks. And because of that, they’re kind of a pain in the ass to capture if you ever have to move them for conservation efforts. That means that conservationists, like the ones in this video from National Geographic, have to come up with more creative ways of making sure the goats don’t overpopulate in any particular ecosystem. The piece shows how conservationists from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are using helicopters to capture mountain goats. They fly in, use a net gun to entangle the animals, and then blindfold them and tie up their hooves so they can’t move. This strategy is a bit more effective than tranquilizing them because tranquilizer effects aren’t instantaneous. They can take up to five minutes to kick in, which means it’s entirely possible they could doze off a cliffside. And of course, there’s the issue of getting people up to higher altitudes in the first place. After recovering the goats, conservationists check for injuries, grab samples, and deposit them in a different region where they’ll be less of an ecological hassle.

Tucked away in the Henry Mountains is a population of about 350 genetically pure American plains bison, disease-free and not crossbred with cattle, thriving in the emerald-green, high altitude oasis of the barren, red-rock landscape. "This is a remarkable finding considering these free-roaming, legally hunted animals live on unfenced public lands and graze alongside livestock," says USU wildlife ecologist Johan du Toit. Montana State University researcher Dustin Ranglack says the Henry Mountains bison herd provides an "incredible resource," which should be considered a primary source for the ongoing conservation of North American plains bison. Ranglack is lead author on a detailed study conducted with du Toit, his former advisor, of the Utah bison population. Together with TAMU colleagues James Derr and Lauren Dobson, the USU scientists analyzed genetic samples from 129 individual animals. Their work, supported by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, is published in the Dec. 16, 2015, issue of PLOS ONE. The team's efforts validate a longtime hunch about the ancestry of the Henry Mountains herd. The Utah bovines originated from less than 20 bison transplanted in the 1940s from Yellowstone National Park to rugged desert terrain near Robbers' Roost canyon, of Butch Cassidy fame. The tenacious mammals soon made their way some 50 miles southwest to their current home; public lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. There, they have roamed freely among beef cattle for more than 70 years. The North American plains once teemed with millions of bison, a primary resource for Native Americans, until the large animals were nearly hunted to extinction during the 1800s. Today, about 500,000 bison remain outside of conservation herds but their lineage has veered from their ancestors. Virtually all have been hybridized, to some extent, with cattle. During the 19th Century, bison were crossbred in confinement with domestic cattle with hopes of creating livestock with the most favorable characteristics of each species. "The idea was to breed livestock with the hardy, drought-resistant traits of the bison and the more docile nature of cattle," du Toit says. The Henry Mountains herd, along with bison herds in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park and Wind Cave National Park, are the only conservation herds of American bison free of detectable levels of cattle DNA remaining on public land in the United States. All are descended from the same remnant of the vast population that once roamed the continent. Bison-cattle hybridization was accomplished in managed settings, but a widely held assumption has been that allowing bison and cattle to graze together on open rangeland would also result in cross-breeding. "But with this study, we've found that's not the case," du Toit says. "Given a choice, a bison bull shows no interest in domestic cows." The implications for bison conservation are significant, he says, because the study shows bison and cattle can co-exist and share food resources. Further, unlike their northern cousins, the Henry Mountains bison are free of brucellosis, a highly contagious bacterial disease that affects bison, cattle, elk, dogs and even humans. "The Henry Mountains bison are the only demonstrated genetically pure, disease-free and free-ranging bison population left in North America," du Toit says. "They're consequently an extremely important resource for restoring the iconic large mammal—just voted a candidate for 'national mammal' this month by the U.S. Senate—to more of its former range." Explore further: Study reveals impact of historical domestic cattle hybridization with American bison

Landress C.M.,Utah Division of Wildlife Resources | Landress C.M.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Transactions of the American Fisheries Society | Year: 2016

The dynamics of stream and floodplain connectivity are a growing consideration for restoration projects. Restoration of a tributary stream to Utah Lake was undertaken in 2008 with the intent of increasing available spawning and nursery habitat for the endangered June Sucker Chasmistes liorus. Restoration efforts provided an opportunity to evaluate relationships between fish assemblages and variables related to the physiochemical environment, vegetation, and habitat connectivity at floodplain ponds. Fish were collected with beach seines and habitat variables were measured each month at 12 floodplain ponds during March 2010 to March 2011. Total catch was predominated by nonnative species: Green Sunfish Lepomis cyanellus, Western Mosquitofish Gambusia affinis, Black Bullhead Ameiurus melas, Fathead Minnow Pimephales promelas, and Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus. Both indirect and direct gradient analyses indicated a significant correlation between fish assemblages and site connectivity. The percentage and type of macrophyte cover (e.g., emergent, submergent) also played a significant role in structuring fish assemblages. Species richness was generally higher at sites with intermediate to high connectivity than at sites with lower connectivity. Sites with lower connectivity were predominated by Green Sunfish, Mosquitofish, and Fathead Minnow. June Suckers were collected from sites with intermediate values of connectivity and vegetation. Observed patterns suggested connectivity structured initial fish assemblages and macrophyte colonization dynamics; subsequent interactions between local habitat (i.e., percent vegetation) and biotic factors (e.g., competition, predation, etc.) provided site-specific interactions and structure. The results of this study indicate connectivity dynamics should be an important consideration in stream and floodplain restoration efforts. Received March 1, 2015; accepted September 30, 2015 © 2016, American Fisheries Society 2016.

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