The Utah legislature passed a bill on Wednesday that would radically change the rules on cougar hunting. HB 469 would make for an open season on cougars 365 days a year and you don’t need a tag, just a hunting license. As you can imagine critics are outraged by this bill that would basically treat a lion like a coyote. Utah currently has no shortage of coyotes.
Anti-hunting groups claim this bill is not based around science or actual real numbers where proponents of the bill are more interested in saving Utah’s diminishing mule deer herd. Also attached with the bill are changes to the recent trail camera rules, outfitters, guides, and land acquisitions to ensure public access in the future.
Faith Jolley of DWR said that “recent studies on select mule deer populations have indicated that cougars cause deer populations to fail to meet management objectives and increased harvest of cougars on those units has correlated with an increase in adult doe survival and growing the deer population”. She added that cougar numbers have increased over the past decade in the majority of Utah’s hunting areas.
The Utah Houndsmen Association would like to see the bill struck down claiming that lions are needed for the ecosystem but the main concern is how the legislature circumvented to public process that’s been in place. The bill would go into effect May 3rd if signed into law by Governor Cox.