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Nobody likes to eat crow, but Utah wildlife officials believe people would like to hunt the distinctive black birds.
A proposal to open the state's first crow-hunting season, likely this fall, will be presented at a series of public meetings leading up to a final decision by the Utah Wildlife Board.
"Most other Western states have a crow season. We are making this proposal to create a new opportunity for Utah hunters and to help control a growing population," said Blair Stringham, migratory game bird coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
Crows are not typically considered good table fare, and some wonder if a hunt for the birds just for the sake of creating more opportunity to shoot wildlife is in poor taste.
"This is not necessarily the right way to reach out to and encourage new hunters," said Tim Avery, a Utah bird photographer and hunter. "There really isn't a need to kill crows and no one will eat them. It seems kind of silly. It might make sense back East where there are millions of crows, but here there are very localized populations in mostly urban areas."
The Internet does offer numerous recipes for making the best of the meat.
Another issue with a possible Utah crow hunt: American crows and ravens look similar and both can be found across the state.
"We would put out a lot of information about the differences," Stringham said. "They are similar, but with a little education it is relatively easy to tell the two apart."
Both members of the corvid family are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but there are different restrictions for the birds.
Crows can be hunted, but not ravens. Stringham said under the proposal, people caught shooting ravens would likely get a ticket.
If passed by the Wildlife Board on June 5 as presented by the state wildlife agency, the 2014-15 crow season would run Sept. 1-30 and again from Dec. 1-Feb. 28, 2015. Licensed hunters would be allowed to take 10 crows a day and have 30 in possession.
"Over the years we have seen a dramatic expansion of crows in Utah," said Bill Fenimore, an avid birder and hunter who also serves on the Utah Wildlife Board. "They are tremendously smart birds and can be very challenging to hunt."
Wildlife officials say that increase has led to crop depredation and the hunt may help curtail agricultural losses.
Fenimore, however, has yet to make up his mind about a vote on the proposal.
"I'm not only a bird lover, but also a bird hunter, so a crow hunt in itself is not a conflict for me," Fenimore said. "I want to see what the public wants and how the final proposal comes together before I decide if I will support it or not."
Other proposals to be presented at the public meetings include holding the first fall turkey hunt since 1984 and increasing the limits on Canada goose (to 4) and doves (to 15).
The Utah Wildlife Board is holding a series of public meetings to share proposals regarding a fall turkey hunt, a new crow hunt, increasing the limits on Canada goose and doves and possible fishing changes.
Here's the schedule:
May 6: Southern Region, Richfield High School, 510 W. 100 South, Richfield, 7 p.m.
May 7: Southeastern Region, John Wesley Powell Museum,1765 E. Main St., Green River, 6:30 p.m.
May 8: Northeastern Region, DWR Northeastern Region Office, 318 N. Vernal Ave., Vernal, 6:30 p.m.
May 13: Central Region, Springville Public Library Meeting Room, 45 S. Main St., Springville, 6:30 p.m.
May 15: Northern Region, Brigham City Community Center, 24 N. 300 W., Brigham City, 6 p.m.