Open Season on Utah’s Cougars
Since 1967, mountain lions have been a protected game species in Utah. Prior to this, they were considered vermin, and their numbers dropped drastically. The management policies that followed helped establish cougar numbers, and in 1989 a limited season was opened up. The high water mark for the state’s cougar population was met in the mid 1990s and has steadily decreased since then. A flexible and moderated management plan allows for changes in license distributions based on several criteria.
This will change with a last minute amendment to HB469. The usual path for a bill of this type is to be introduced into committee with public comment sought for robust debate. Instead, it was a “midnight addition” just before the bill’s vote. If this is codified, a mountain lion will no longer require a special permit and could be taken with a hunting license any day of the year. There would be no further ability for Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources to manage cougar numbers.
Utah Houndsmen Association President Cory Huntsman decries this move:
“We have collar data that shows us we are decreasing lion populations. There isn’t more than one unit that unlimited tags has helped improve deer herds. Even more aggressive pursuits are unnecessary.”
He adds that ongoing research with BYU on mountain lions would be in danger of being canceled if this bill is signed into law.
Currently, HB469 awaits Governor Spencer Cox’s signature or veto. His office has not communicated which direction the governor intends to take.
Houndsmen and hunters have been at the forefront of cougar management for decades. Our efforts and resources have supported better research and practices that have kept cougars on Utah’s landscape. Our voice has not been heard on this bill and we urge the Governor to veto HB469 and allow it to progress through normal legislative channels. The way HB469 is being handled is not the way to manage wildlife.
If you disagree with HB469, ask the governor to veto. Reach Out To Gov Cox about HB469 through the below avenues:
Emails: [email protected]
Submit Comments: https://cs.utah.gov/s/submit