The Utah Department of Wildlife Resources and the Utah Wildlife Board have increased or eliminated the quota on many mountain lion units in the state. Likewise, the Board has made mountain lions a year-round game animal. This means in most units, hunters with a mountain lion permit will be able to hunt for a calendar year.
These new changes have happened because of Legislation changes in Utah. In 2020, Utah passed HB125. That bill mandated the DWR to reduce predator populations in hunting areas where big game populations do not meet population targets.
Game Mammals Program Coordinator for the DWR, Darren DeBloois Spoke with board members about the most effective way to implement this new management plan.
“[The Utah State Legislative changes] requires the division director to take immediate action to reduce predators when two things happen. When big game populations are below management plan objectives and when they can determine predators are contributing to big game populations declining.” – Darren DeBloois
Likewise, DeBloois spoke on why mountain lion hunting should shift to year-round hunting.
“Our goal is to maintain a healthy cougar population within the current distribution of the species across Utah, while also considering human safety, damages to livestock producers and declines in populations of big game species that cougars prey on.” – Darren DeBloois
A War on Mountain Lions?
Despite hearing from DeBloois, others spoke out in opposition to the changes. Both Adrian Brown and Kirk Robinson spoke out against the changes.
“Don’t tell me it’s all science-based when you can’t cite any peer-reviewed, published studies to support any of this stuff. Carnivore numbers will track the numbers of the ungulates prey base if you let them do it. Sure, there’s going to be a bit of a lag, but it can be done. Instead, it looks like we’re in for a perpetual war on cougars.” – Kirk Robinson
Adrian Brown cited a study that was published in 2020.
“Deer populations in the state where cougars are not hunted show no significant differences in density and abundance compared to deer populations in the state that allows cougar hunting.” – 2020 Study by Dr. Christopher M. Papouchis
Mr. Brown also spoke his own feelings on the new changes.
“Instead of targeting cougars and other predators to boost big game species, we need to address climate issues such as droughts, wildfires, and habitat loss caused by urban expansion.” – Adrian Brown
After hearing from several members of the public the Utah Wildlife Board decided to go through with increasing or removing the above-mentioned quota. The Board also noted that predator management plans are needed in 33 of Utah’s 53 hunting areas. Within these units, the season will now be year-round. Likewise, the quota in these units will be lifted. However, each hunter will not be allowed to take more than two mountain lions a year.
You can read more about this new predator management plan by clicking here. This bill has now changed the way that Utah manages both black bears and mountian lions. You can also check out our Utah page for more hunting-related news in Utah by clicking here.