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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
(CENTER) Rodney Boudrero and his friends Dustin Fabis and Thayne Sharp plan the rest of their excursion on the Weber River near Henefer on Thursday, August 6, 2009. Eleven Utahns lost their lives in boating-related accidents this year. Seven of these victims would likely have survived had they worn a life jacket. Utah State Park Boating Rangers are trying to educate people on water safety and to enforce the law to wear a life jacket. Life jackets are required by the State Boating Act to be worn by all individuals while on the river.

YOUTH HUNTS PLANNED

Hunters who are 15 years old and younger can participate in special chukar and pheasant hunts in Utah this fall.

These special youth hunts have been held in Utah for years and are a great way to introduce young people to upland game hunting. "Kids really enjoy these hunts," says Dave Olsen, upland game coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "They usually have plenty of birds to shoot at, and they don't have to compete with older hunters for a bird."

Participating in one of the hunts is easy.If you're 15 years old or younger, and you've completed Utah's Hunter Education course, you can go online at www.wildlife.utah.gov/uplandgame and complete an application.

To be considered for one of the youth chukar hunts, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources must receive your application no later than Aug. 23. Applications for the youth pheasant hunts are due by Sept. 6.

The youth chukar hunts will be held Sept. 4 on four state wildlife management areas and one walk-in access area. The youth pheasant hunts will be held Nov. 13 on four state wildlife management areas and one walk-in access area. "We're holding these hunts across Utah," Olsen says. "No matter where you live, you should be able to find a hunt within two hours of your home."

The areas will be closed to all other hunters on the day the youth hunts are held.

"The number of young people who hunt in Utah has declined through the years," said Dave Olsen, upland game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "We're hoping these youth hunts will help reverse that trend by getting young people into the field and letting them experience what it's like to take an upland game bird. The hunts also give us a chance to teach young people how to be responsible and ethical hunters."

For more information about the hunts, call the nearest wildlife division office or see Page 22 of the 2010-11 Utah Upland Game Guidebook. The guidebook is available at www.wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks.

PREDATORY FISH FOUND

VERNAL — On July 28, researchers with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources found something they didn't want to find: a 21-inch burbot in the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam.

Burbot are a non-native fish from east of the Rocky Mountains. The fish was captured during an electrofishing study to recover and study endangered fish in the Green and Colorado rivers. "The burbot was captured from an electrofishing raft roughly 1.5 miles upstream of the Split Mountain boat ramp in Dinosaur National Monument," says Paul Badame, the division's native fish project leader. "This is the first capture of a burbot below Flaming Gorge Dam that I'm aware of."

The burbot likely came down the Green River after someone illegally introduced the species upstream in Big Sandy Reservoir in Wyoming.

The burbot have worked their way downstream, bypassing dams at Big Sandy and Flaming Gorge.

Burbot are voracious predators, capable of breeding in both rivers and reservoirs. As a result, they can have a serious impact on both native and sport fish populations.

Biologists working on Flaming Gorge Reservoir have already noticed a rapid increase in the number of burbot in the reservoir and a corresponding decline in the number of kokanee salmon.

Burbot also pose a major risk to native fish in the Green River. "We're concerned that burbot will negatively impact endangered fish and other native fishes in the Green River," says Krissy Wilson, native aquatic species coordinator for the division. "We've seen this happen before with other nonnative fish, including northern pike, redshiner and smallmouth bass."

Krissy Wilson, native aquatic species coordinator for the wildlife division, says the division and its partners in the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program are working together to determine the best way to deal with this latest threat.

The wildlife division has placed a "no tolerance" fishing regulation on burbot in Utah, which means there's no limit on the number of burbot an angler can catch; anglers may not release any burbot they catch; and all burbot must be killed immediately.

For more information, call the wildlife division's Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.

LIFE JACKETS REQUIRED

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State Parks and Recreation reports a large increase in people riding inner tubes on local rivers and wants to remind these non-traditional boaters they must comply with life-jacket laws.

Utah State Parks boating rangers plan to increase their presence at local rivers to urge compliance and prevent drownings.

Inner tubes, air mattresses and all other flotation devices are considered boats when they are used to carry people down a river. Therefore, Utah law requires inner tubers and floaters to wear a properly sized, approved and fastened life jacket. Nationally, approximately 700 people drown each year from recreational boating accidents, and the simple act of wearing a life jacket can drastically reduce this number. Life jackets are an essential part of boating safety equipment and should be worn at all times. Life jackets are no longer the orange, hot and bulky vests that are commonly associated with on-the-water safety gear. New innovations and developments in life jackets have produced smaller, sleeker and much more comfortable versions.

For more information, visit stateparks.utah.gov or call 801-538-BOAT.