Finding water to drink will be easier now for wildlife in Skull Valley’s Cedar Mountains.
Under the supervision of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, about 20 volunteers from the Mule Deer Foundation installed four guzzers in Skull Valley Saturday. They also installed two guzzlers last fall.
Guzzlers are large 500-gallon devices that catch and store water from snow and rain. They provide drinking water for wildlife and are especially important during hot, dry summers, according to Robby Edgel, habitat restoration biologist for DWR’s central Utah area.
Four guzzlers are located on the southeast side of the Cedar Mountains and two are on the northwest section of the range.
“We aim to benefit mule deer, pronghorn, golden eagles, pinyon jays, other bird species, rabbits, other small mammals, and chukar partridge,” Edgel said. “If the UDWR is able to get support from the public to reintroduce bighorn sheep that once lived in this mountain range these guzzlers will also help them to establish.”
Guzzlers are not used to help wild horses in Skull Valley.
“A big problem on the Cedar Mountains is obviously how little rain we get out there. The only water sources are springs. There are too many wild horses on the Cedar Mountains and there is scientific peer reviewed and published literature that shows wild horses will exclude and reduce the use of wildlife water sources where there are a lot of wild horses,” Edgel said. “This can have huge impacts on the wildlife populations. We need to do more to remove wild horses and the public needs to better understand that these horses are not natural, they are not native, and they are extremely detrimental to the health of the ecosystem,” Edgel said.
Fences are put up around guzzlers to keep wild horses out and wildlife in.
“With changes in our climate and groundwater reduction from human use we may also lose many of the historical and natural springs that have existed out there. So building guzzlers is a way to offset those impacts of water loss as well,” the biologist said.
He said several sportsmen groups helped with funding for the project including Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, Mule Deer Foundation, Utah Archery Association, and the Utah Wild Sheep Foundation.
“It is important to recognize the value that hunters play in helping the conservation of all wildlife species and not just big game,” he said.
The Utah State Legislature also provided funding for the project as part of the Utah Watershed Restoration Initiative.