Sunday, July 12, 2009

Utah proposes increase in cougar hunting permits

July 10, 2009

DWR proposes increase incougar hunting permits

Staff and Wire Reports

The number of cougars hunters take in Utah this season should be similar to the number taken over the past four seasons.

About 300 cougars would probably be taken in Utah under ideas the DWR is proposing for the state's 2009 Ð 2010 hunting season.

That number would be similar to the past four seasons in Utah. Hunters took an average of 306 cougars during each of those seasons.

"About 15 years ago, the Utah Wildlife Board increased the number of cougar hunting permits a bunch," said Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the DWR.

Bunnell says helping mule deer herds recover after hard winters in the early 1990s was the biggest reason for the increase. "Cougars were one of several factors that kept mule deer herds from rebounding after those winters."

Biologists had two things in mind when they proposed the permit increase: they wanted to help the mule deer herds recover while making sure Utah's cougar population stayed protected. "Our main goal was to find a balance between the two species," Bunnell said

He says it appears the effort over the past 15 years worked. Permits were increased for several years. Then, for the past four years, permit numbers have been reduced.

"Based on the number of cougars that hunters took in 2009, and the number of cougars houndsmen put up trees last year, it appears Utah's cougar population has started to stabilize," Bunnell said "Now we're working to find the proper balance between cougars and their prey. We think the proposals we're recommending for 2010 are another step in that direction."

The number of hunting permits the DWR is recommending for Utah's limited entry units, and the total number of cougars to be taken on the state's harvest objective units, are down slightly from 2009.

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700....

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