As of 2017, UDWR's biologists estimated that there were between 1900 - 4000 mountain lions in Utah. During the 2017-2018 hunt, trophy hunters were reported to have killed 456 lions. According to the UDWR, in the past three years, hunters have killed a total of 1234 mountain lions: 859 males and 374 females. Assuming that 374 females killed is accurate (depredation, roadkill and poisoning not included) and, conservatively assuming one kitten per female, that is an additional 175 kittens left to die of starvation.
Allowing hunters to potentially kill up to 653 mountain lions is simply unsustainable and flies in the face of the best available science. Trophy hunting mountain lions damages their social structure and hastens local extinction. Mountain lion populations are self-regulating - limited by access to food, shelter and access to mates - and need not be managed.
Additionally, studies and surveys have shown that a significant percentage of Utahns do not support trophy hunting of the state's wild cats. Yet, seldom are these considerations factored into hunting decisions.
Continued overhunting of mountain lions can lead to population decline, instability and decline in overall ecosystem health, increased overgrazing by deer and elk, an increase in conflicts with humans and decreased kitten survival which leads to further population decline.
Contrary to popular belief, the killing of lions has been shown to potentially increase conflicts for ranchers and pet owners as it disrupts natural population dynamics. When a dominant male is removed from his territory, dispersing subadults may immigrate to occupy the previous male's territory. These younger cats may be more likely to prey upon livestock and pets, leading to an avoidable increase in wildlife-livestock conflict.
The UDWR should take into consideration public attitude and sentiment towards yet another quota increase, as well as factor in the best available science which has shown that hunting a population to this extent is clearly unsustainable. Research has indicated that hunting no more than 10% of a mountain lion population would allow for stability, while decreasing the likelihood of conflicts with humans and domestic animals. This lowered limit would also allow a buffer for other types of human-caused mortality including roadway collisions, incidental trapping or snaring, poaching and retaliatory killings.
Ideally, trophy hunting of mountain lions should be ended altogether as their populations are self-regulating and do not require human intervention. For now, however, it is critical that we take action today to speak up for Utah's mountain lions!
We need to take ACTION before it's too late. More mountain lions are being killed today by trophy hunters than when bounties were being issued for the big cats. Mountain lions were very nearly hunted to extinction before, and it's very possible that that could happen again! We can't stress how important it is to speak up for wildlife by attending these meetings and telling wildlife managers that hunts like this are unnecessary and unsustainable. We want our big cats protected! Wildlife should not be "managed" for the benefit of hunters alone!
If you live in Utah, the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) will be holding a series of meetings for the public to come out and voice their opinions about the proposed increase. If possible, please attend one or more of these meetings and speak out against the proposed increase. The schedule for these meetings can be found by clicking here and below:
If you cannot attend, you should email a RAC member or members whose interests align with yours before the meeting takes place. Click here to view for a list of Utah's RAC members and their contact information. In your email, please remember to be polite, but emphasize that:
If you can't make an appearance at a RAC meeting, we ask that you submit a comment letter to one or more of the RAC members. The Wildlife Board receives most of the public's input from the RAC meetings so this is one of the best ways to convey your thoughts to the Wildlife Board before they make their final decision. After each of the RAC meetings have concluded, the RAC chairmen share the input they had received with the Utah Wildlife Board.
The Utah Wildlife Board will meet on August 30 to make its decision on the proposed increase. If would like to attend this meeting, it will begin at 9:00 AM at the following location:
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The Mountain Lion Foundation, founded in 1986, is a national nonprofit organization protecting mountain lions and their habitat.
We believe that mountain lions are in peril.
Our nation is on the verge of destroying this apex species upon which whole ecosystems depend. Hunting mountain lions is morally unjustified, and killing lions to prevent conflicts is ineffective and dangerous.
There is a critical need to know more about the biology, behavior, and ecology of mountain lions, and governments should base decisions upon truthful science, valid data, and the highest common good. Conserving critical lion habitat is essential.