Aug 26, 2021
Utah Wildlife Board approves excessive 2021-22 hunt recommendations

For immediate release

Date:  August 26, 2021

Debra Chase, CEO, Mountain Lion Foundation
916-442-2666 ext. 103

Utah Wildlife Board approves excessive 2021-22 hunt recommendations

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah’s newly approved hunting targets for mountain lions are excessive and unsustainable, according to an analysis by conservation advocates. The Utah Wildlife Board voted Thursday to allow unlimited cougar hunting in most of the state, and to place harvest limits elsewhere. During the 2020-21 cougar hunting season, a record 702 kills by hunters and Wildlife Services were reported by the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).

“Allowing trophy hunters to kill so many of our cougars is not only unsustainable, it is not good management, and does not support the DWR’s mission of serving the people of Utah as “trustee and guardian of the state’s protected wildlife,” stated Denise Peterson, Conservation Advocate for the Mountain Lion Foundation and resident of Utah. She continued, “The majority of Utahans do not support the killing of the state’s lions to appease a small handful of wildlife stakeholders and it is high time that management decisions reflect this reality.”

Under the plan, 33 of the 53 cougar hunting units will allow unlimited year-round harvest and have a goal of >40% female harvest. For the remaining 20 cougar hunt units, DWR recommended that hunters be permitted to kill up to 297 cougars. The policy allows a single hunter to kill up to 2 cougars per year, but does not allow the killing of cougars that have been collared by researchers statewide.

According to DWR, a record number of cougars were killed by hunters and Wildlife Services during the 2020-21 season: 702 documented mortalities. The Mountain Lion Foundation estimates, based on available suitable habitat and the solitary nature of cougars, suggests that the state may be home to around 1,600 adult-aged mountain lions. DWR estimated in 2019 that the state has 70% more lions: 2,700 individuals. DWR’s inflated population estimates were used to justify the high hunting quotas approved by the Wildlife Board.

“I worry that these excessive hunting limits will only increase conflicts between lions and domestic animals, and do little to achieve management goals of boosting big game species like mule deer and bighorn sheep,” says MLF’s Peterson. “Cougars continue to get the blame for mule deer and bighorn sheep declines, but there are many other factors that influence deer and sheep survival, including drought and lack of quality forage. Studies have even shown that hunting disrupts cougar social structures and increases conflicts with livestock and predation on declining prey.”

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Founded in 1986, the Mountain Lion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure that Americas lion survives and flourishes in the wild.

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