Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is recommending a few changes to the 2020–21 cougar and bobcat hunting seasons, and is asking for the public’s feedback.
As with each wildlife species in Utah, cougars are managed according to guidelines established in a management plan, which includes regulated hunting. DWR biologists make determinations and gather input from hunters, individuals who don’t hunt and livestock producers, who sometimes have sheep killed by cougars. The plan is then finalized and approved by the Utah Wildlife Board. The current management plan was established in 2015 and expires in 2025. However, adjustments can be made as needed, depending on changes in cougar population numbers.
“Our goal is to maintain a healthy cougar population within the current distribution of the species across Utah, while also considering human and livestock safety, and declines in populations of big game species that cougars prey on,” DWR Game Mammals Coordinator Darren DeBloois said. “As part of this, we factor in a proportion of older age animals, breeding females and healthy cougars in the population.”
Legislative changes to cougar hunts taking effect this fall
A law passed during the 2020 legislative session authorizes the DWR director to take immediate action (under certain conditions) when a big game population is under the established herd-size objective for a management unit. Because cougars prey on big game species, predator management plans will be implemented to decrease cougar population densities in some areas of the state. Reducing those population densities should also decrease cougars’ predation rates on mule deer and bighorn sheep populations that have seen significant declines in recent years.
New data from GPS collars helps DWR biologists determine the cause of death for many species. When the biologists determine that predators are preventing the growth of big game populations, the big game populations are under their management objectives, and several other conditions are met, the predator management plans are implemented for that area.
The cougar hunting units that have predator management plans in place will be open for unlimited year-round harvest. Twenty-five hunting units across the state will have predator management plans.
Due to the new predator management law passed this year, DWR Director Mike Fowlks has opened a new fall spot-and-stalk hunting season for cougars, which will run from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31. This hunt will be implemented on a year-by-year basis, as needed, to decrease cougar population densities. Anyone interested in participating in this year’s new hunt may purchase a $30 permit online or at Division offices and harvest a cougar without the use of dogs during this spot-and-stalk hunting season.
Go here for additional information including the times, dates and locations for public meetings and public comment details.
(Photo source: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)