Wild About Utah

Wild About Utah is a weekly nature series produced by Utah Public Radio in cooperation with Stokes Nature Center, Bridgerland Audubon Society, Quinney College of Natural Resources, Cache Valley Wildlife Association, Utah State University and Utah Master Naturalist Program - USU Extension. More about Wild About Utah can be found here.

Utah is a state endowed with many natural wonders from red rock formations to salt flats. And from desert wetlands to columns of mountains forming the basin and range region. When we look closer, nature is everywhere including just outside our door.

Hear the wonders of Utah: plants, animals, geologic formations; ancient, present; terrestrial, avian and aquatic. Brought to you by the Moab Area Travel Council

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Bird Benefits on Wild About Utah

May 10, 2017
Ron Hellstern

Birds may not be as exciting as certain athletic events or blockbuster films, but have you ever considered the many benefits they provide to ecosystems and humans? They control insect and rodent populations; they eat weed seeds; they pollinate crops, flowers, fruits. They are a major food source, consider chickens, turkeys, game birds, water fowl, as well as their eggs. 

US FWS, Steve Hillebrand

Beginning as early as the 17th century, beavers have struggled to find safe places to build their homes. Initially, hunters trapped beaver extensively to keep up with the popular beaver fashions in Europe.Then as settlers began moving west, they considered the beavers annoying because of their tendency to cause flooding and damage trees – so the trapping continued.

Becky Yeager

It was a spectacular scene that no living person has ever witnessed.  John James Audubon said the sun would literally be blocked out for hours as the river of living creatures flew by from sunrise to sunset.  Estimates place their population up to five billion. They represented 40% of all the living Class of Aves in North America and may have been the most abundant bird species in the entire world.  They reached speeds over 60 miles per hour, and when flocks came to rest in forests their collective landings could topple large trees.  They seemed invincible.

The Passion Of Penstemaniacs on Wild About Utah

Mar 10, 2017
Dr. Tom Edwards

Penstemaniacs, the name affectionately given to members of the American Penstemon Society, will be gathering from all parts of the world to meet in Vernal, Utah, this June. 

While here, they'll be searching the Uinta Mountains for penstemons native to that area.    

Tree Talk on Wild About Utah

Mar 3, 2017
NYC Parks

The next time you take a walk in the deep woods or even a stroll through a local park, listen closely. You may hear the trees ‘whispering in the wind.’ We use this familiar phrase to describe the soothing sounds of a gentle breeze through the forest canopy; but it may delight and surprise many to know that this figure of speech is now a proven scientific fact. The trees are talking.

Wild Roots on Wild About Utah

Feb 24, 2017

One thing I love about being a horticulturist is paying close attention and working with seasonal cycles, especially this time of year when it finally feel OK to slow down.  This is the time of year when plants put all their energy into reserve for the winter and I think this is really cool.  If you’ve never thought about it, or even if you have… imagine how vibrant the fresh, new, green leaves are in the spring, busting from the dormant branches of trees. 

Why Dippers Dip on Wild About Utah

Feb 10, 2017

Cinclus mexicanus is the only aquatic songbird found in North America, but it goes by several names—the American dipper, the water dipper, or the water ouzel. It is a grapefruit-sized bird that inhabits mountainous riparian areas. It has brownish gray plumage, stubby wings and tail, and ornithologists sometimes refer to it as “stocky,” “chunky,” and even “chubby-looking.” However, the dipper has no shortage of energy, and can be seen careening at low altitudes over mountain streambeds and crashing beak-first into fast-flowing water, always in the upstream direction.

Utah's Fish Culture on Wild About Utah

Feb 3, 2017

On May 12, 1871, Albert Perry Rockwood, the recently appointed Territorial Fish Superintendent of Utah, arrived at Silver Creek, a small tributary of the Weber River near present-day Rockport Reservoir. After setting up camp, Rockwood went to work catching native Bonneville cutthroat trout, which he placed in crates and milk cartons and loaded on wagons bound for Salt Lake City. 

Orphaned Cub Rehabilitation on Wild About Utah

Jan 26, 2017

Sadly each year, there are orphaned bear cubs in Utah.  Some lose their mothers to forest fires, while others are orphaned by vehicle-bear collisions or other human-related conflicts.

USDA Forest Service

Pando, a sprawling aspen colony and the world’s largest discovered organism, is dying.

On the lip of Fish Lake in Central Utah, Pando germinated from a seed the size of a grain of sand thousands of years ago. Now he sprawls over a hundred acres with approximately 47,000 trunks. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On December 17th, I will join several others for an exciting day of counting bird species and numbers in our lovely, snowy valley. The numbers will be entered on a database that will be shared globally.

Chadd VanZanten

Northern Utah’s Logan River is known for its solitude and grandeur. Drive just a few miles up Logan Canyon in Cache Valley and find yourself in a wild setting on the bank of a picturesque mountain stream. It would be difficult to find a place in Utah that is more accessible and yet so peaceful.

America’s Caveat River on Wild About Utah

Nov 17, 2016

I grew up in a town that had a story for nearly every run-down property in its borders. Most buildings had at least one ghost floating around its fence line, but the really haunted estate—the one where, supposedly, my great-great uncle plastered babies into the walls, where it’s said he threw his wife into the well, where the land itself swallows livestock and spits out bones, where you can still hear screams coiling up near the hackthorn bushes and willow trees—is just outside of town. Just far enough to escape the reach of the city lights, but not too far that you won’t make it back by morning. The location, more than its history, is probably the reason for the stories. If there is no journey, there is no room for stories to germinate.

Jack’s Urban Deer on Wild About Utah

Nov 10, 2016
US FWS Ryan Moehring, Photographer

As I look out my front window, 7 mule deer are cavorting, feeding, with some lying down for a mid-day siesta. With the final week of the regular season deer hunt winding down, some have taken sanctuary from the nimrods to join the urban herd.


Biking daily from Smithfield Canyon to Utah State University campus, combined with an early morning run, I’m well aware of the drop in temperatures, as are those of us who find themselves outdoors on a more permanent schedule. I’m speaking of our relatives who reside in the wild- birds, trees, raccoons, and such.

Coyotes, Our Howling Dogs On Wild About Utah

Oct 10, 2016

With the big game hunting season beginning, I reflect back on my first deer hunt in Utah. Arriving from Michigan in 1971, Utah friends took me into White Pine Lake above Logan. Alone on my stand, a large animal approached. Finely in my sights, a large, gorgeous male coyote in its prime. I fired and the coyote was dead before it slumped to the ground. Like Aldo Leopold after watching the “green fire” fade from the eyes of the she-wolf he shot, I resolved never to kill another coyote.

Condors In Zion National Park On Wild About Utah

Sep 23, 2016

Here we have Zion National Park. We’re looking up the canyon at all these beautiful, beautiful cliffs and rock structures. This is one of the reasons [why] people come, but when you talk to people who come here, even from around the world, one of the things on their list is condors. 

The Yellow-Bellied Marmot On Wild About Utah

Sep 9, 2016

If you have explored the mountains of Utah, you’ve inevitably heard the iconic high-pitched chirp associated with Utah’s Yellow-Bellied Marmot.


What is it about orchids in our desert state that excites me so? Perhaps its finding them so far removed from their usual tropical biome, or their uncommon beauty. I was surprised to discover that Utah has at least 16 native species of orchids. Most occur in moist, higher elevations, but a few are found in our valley bottoms.

Hi, I’m Ann McLuckie and I work with the Division of Wildlife Resources working primarily on desert tortoises within the Red Cliff Desert Reserve. We’re going out in the field today and we’re going to do a transect. We’ve done transects since 1997 and our ultimate goal is to estimate population densities and those densities will allow us to look at how tortoises are doing and then if we get densities over time we can see are the populations increasing, decreasing, or are they stable. 


  Tucked into isolated pockets of the Uintah Basin’s arid wildlands is the best little plant you’ve never heard of. Known to exist only in Duchesne and Uintah Counties, Shrubby-reed Mustard seems to occupy only the semi-barren “islands” of white shale in areas of the Green River Formation’s Evacuation Creek region. The endangered plant features thick, almost succulent, blue-green leaves and small yellow flowers.

The Three-Leaf Sumac on Wild About Utah

Aug 12, 2016
Hansen’s Northwest Native Plant Database

  Many think of the desert as a hot, dry, barren, and unforgiving place. However, Utah’s deserts are chock full of interesting and diverse plants and animals! One such plant, which grows throughout much of Utah, is rhus trilobata or three-leaf sumac. 

Sacred Mountains On Wild About Utah

Aug 10, 2016

I just completed teaching a 5 day Utah Master Naturalist course through USU extension on Utah mountains. The course allowed me to revisit the immense influence these lofty lumps in the earth’s crust have had on my life, and the life of so many others.

Bird Banding in Red Butte Canyon on Wild About Utah

Jul 29, 2016
Jessie Bunkley

The Biodiversity and Conservation Ecology lab's work focuses on how human-land use affects different types of wildlife.

Pioneer Day Edible Native Plants On Wild About Utah

Jul 21, 2016

  With Pioneer Days looming, let’s explore a bit of our local heritage.

Following several days of cold and snowy weather in early May, my friend and USU graduate student Ian Keller and I approached the Mormon Handcart outpost near Evanston Wyoming on Deseret Land & Livestock Company land. We braved the elements to deliver a seminar to 8 missionary couples on Mormon pioneer use of wild plants as they struggled toward the Promised Land of Salt Lake Valley.