BY TOM BUSSELBERG
Clipper Associate Editor
SYRACUSE — Antelope Island will receive more than $275,000, thanks to proceeds from a bid to participate in a big trophy hunt on the island in the autumn.
An Idaho man bid a record $310,000 to take part in the hunt, Park Manager Jeremy Shaw said.
The hunter also participated last year, Shaw said.
“It’s still holding on,” he said of interest in the hunt. ”Four years ago I wouldn’t have thought it would get that high.”
Of that $310,000, about 90 percent will go to the island to fund development of mule deer or big horn sheep habitat.
The rest goes to the Mule Deer Foundation, which auctioned off the permit for the state at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo held in Salt Lake City.
“We can’t actually run the park with it (auction funds), but it does come back to improve those species,” Shaw said.
Park Wildlife Biologist Steve Bates oversees use of those funds to make it possible for the public to watch wildlife, Shaw said.
“Anything that will improve the range, water sources and habitat for those animals” is in Bates’ interest, Shaw said.
The funds help pay for project couldn’t fund otherwise, he added.
He knows the public is especially fond of the bison.
“It’s amazing to me how well Steve’s able to manage the herd and the range,” Shaw said. “This place was overgrazed for 100 years. To try and undo that and the invasive species that take hold when it happens is a long process. The steps he’s taken are huge,” Shaw said.
Nine guzzlers are being installed to give wildlife more options to obtain water, Bates said.
A guzzler is a trough-type apparatus that recesses into the ground. It has a dome-shaped top. Moisture rolls onto the edges and is collected in a cistern with an open end for wildlife to access, he explained.
Two of the guzzlers will be placed in areas readily visible to visitors, Bates said.
“The last thing I want to happen is have it (park) turn into a hunting ground. But if this is what’s going to happen, we will make the best of it,” Shaw said. “This was a legislative mandate, not a parks (division) decision.”
Davis County does not own the park or have any control of it. However, commissioners, tourism officials and others fought unsuccessfully against the hunt being approved by the legislature.
“I understand the demands that are being put on state parks,” Davis County Commissioner John Petroff said, praising the hunt being held so as not to interfere with the public’s enjoyment of the park. “Hopefully they’ll keep all that money there. bid funds. It’s part of our partnership with the state and effort to try to make Antelope Island the real jewel of state parks.”