As recently as 2 weeks ago, 3 Harlequin Ducks
were being consistently seen along the Antelope Island Causeway road, usually near the first bridge. For nearly 2 months these birds found shelter where they normally would not be found. Then one day, they vanished and their whereabouts remained a mystery.
2 of the 3 now presumed killed Harlequin Ducks
at Antelope Island Causeway
Unfortunately, we now have it on good authority that these ducks (and others) were taken as trophies by some very unsportsmanlike “hunters”
who took advantage of some easy targets and a loophole in the law (and in their personal ethics). Presumably your initial reaction is outrage and sadness followed by an assumption that surely some law must have been broken.
Long-tailed Ducks are another target species for
hunters along the causeway.
However, in researching this, we’ve determined that according to the laws, hunters are within legal shooting range along the causeway as long as they are not shooting across the road and are off the road and shoulder. They currently cannot be cited for any violation as long as they follow this. Despite whatever feelings law enforcement officials have about the ethics of a person who would hunt in this manner, NO LEGAL ACTION CAN BE TAKEN.
There is no protection for Harlequin Ducks, Scoters or most of the other incredible birds we’ve all been enjoying at Antelope Island regardless of how rare they are to our state.
Beautiful tiny Buffleheads are another prize, although
common they are merely hunted as trophies.
As the causeway is managed and owned by Davis County, it is not subject to the rules and restrictions that govern the state park itself. As the causeway is one of the greatest assets of the state park, this is a seemingly self-defeating measure for a county and state that would value the INTERNATIONAL TOURISM
that Antelope Island attracts for its BIRD WATCHING
Surf Scoters are taken annually in Utah during the duck hunt;
the causeway is one of the best places to see them.
It is widely considered that no ethical hunter would hunt in this manner and we fully support hunting in an ethical and sportsman way. We are only taking issue with those who would hunt in the manner we’ve described and more specifically the current law that allows it.
The gorgeous Barrow's Goldeneye are another trophy
that can fall victim at the causeway.
So what can WE do?
We can speak up and try to make a difference. Our collective voices can be heard by educating the Davis County authorities about why we visit Antelope Island. We do care about the money we spend on state park passes and have an expectation that reasonable laws should exist to protect people, birds, and animals from unethical “sportsmen”. For those of you outside Utah (and we know there are many of you reading this) you can talk about the reasons you have or would want to visit Utah and Antelope Island State Park.
We propose that we encourage a “buffer” along both sides of the entire causeway from entrance gate to island of no less than 100 yards and that the buffer be STRICTLY ENFORCED.
Further, we want a special additional consideration and buffer added at the two bridges as these are the most important locations for resting birds.
We’ve identified below some of the people who can be contacted and we have all sent letters to them that sum up our stance. We encourage you to send your own letters as you see fit. We should be able to make a difference if we show them how many of us care about this issue.
Jeremy Shaw, Antelope Island State Park Manager - email@example.com
Jolene Rose, Antelope Island State Park Wildlife Biologist - firstname.lastname@example.org
Neka Roundy, Davis County Community Director/Great Salt Lake Bird Festival Chair - email@example.com
Barbara Riddle, Davis Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau - firstname.lastname@example.org
Louenda H. Downs, Davis County Commission Chair - email@example.com
John Petroff Jr., Davis County Commissioner - firstname.lastname@example.org
P. Bret Millburn, Davis County Commission Vice-Chair - email@example.com
Here is an easy to copy list for you to drop into your email client:
Feel free to draw inspiration from the letter below
as you write your own words and if you so wish, copy and paste the last paragraph with the specific request for a buffer.
Thank you for being a Utah Birder!
Dear Davis County Community Leaders and Antelope Island State Park Management:
It has recently come to my attention that very little law exists protecting the waters and shoreline adjacent to the causeway that leads to Antelope Island State Park from hunting activities. I urge you to re-examine this carefully. This area is heavily visited by people from all over the state as well as the country and world - as it is well documented for the variety of bird species that can be found there. The causeway can be a true treasure for birders looking to see something amazing passing through our beautiful state and the Great Salt Lake. It is a detriment and deterrent to the tourists as well as the wildlife that visit this area to allow the continued presence of hunting activities right along the edge of the road.
As recently as 2 weeks ago, birders were coming out in droves to see 3 extremely rare Harlequin Ducks. Those ducks were consistently residing near the first bridge on the causeway. These bridges along the causeway, with their high flow of nutrients, are especially vital for resting birds. These Harlequins are now gone, and from our understanding were taken as trophies from hunting at close range along the causeway. In one fell swoop these hunters took from you an excellent and proven tourism draw. It is self-defeating to the interests of Antelope Island State Park and Davis County to allow this sort of unsportsmanlike behavior right in the shadow of a place that markets itself so eloquently as a wildlife refuge. Please reconsider.
My request is not to disallow hunting around Antelope Island. I fully support hunting and believe it it can be a fun and sportsmanlike activity but shooting from the side of the causeway is not in that tradition. I wish for you to extend further protections to the causeway, recognizing it for the refuge it is for both wildlife and those who wish to watch it. Please institute a buffer that protects the shoreline and waters immediately near it. I hope for a minimum buffer line of 100 yards to be enforced from the entry gate to the island with additional buffering at the more sensitive areas of the bridges.
The people and the birds will thank you and continue to visit in great numbers.
Thank You for considering my request.
A Utah Birder
Labels: activism, Antelope Island, conservation, hunting, waterfowl