A invoice that just lately handed the Utah legislature would take away all bag limits for mountain lion searching and prolong the present season from seven months to year-round. Home Invoice 469, which has handed each the Utah Senate and the Home of Representatives, would additionally reduce the allow necessities for cougar searching by permitting anybody with a base searching license to pursue the large cats by way of strategies that embody hounding, trapping, and spot-and-stalk searching.

Since passing within the legislature, the invoice has garnered a good quantity of opposition from individuals contained in the searching group. Corey Huntsman, President of the Utah Houndsmen Affiliation opposes the invoice. He instructed Discipline & Stream he’s extra involved with the lifting of lion quotas than the extension of the season from seven months to a full yr.

“Now we have not had a change this radical within the wildlife administration of any species in Utah in 56 years,” Huntsman mentioned. “And this was accomplished with zero public enter. The legislators didn’t hunt down Utah Division of Wildlife biologist consultants for opinion or trigger and results. They didn’t attain out to our universities which might be doing research on deer and lions. This was all legislators managing wildlife by slipping an modification into an unrelated invoice on the final hour.”

In 2019, the UDWR estimated Utah’s cougar numbers at round 2,000 particular person animals. In keeping with the division, 667 cougars had been harvested in 2021, whereas solely 491 of the large cats had been taken through the 2022 searching season. UDWR spokesperson Religion Heaton Jolly instructed the Deseret Information that the drop in harvest from 2021 to 2022 wasn’t an indicator of a decline in cougar numbers, however extra doubtless a mirrored image of simply how arduous the large cats are to efficiently hunt.

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Huntsman, who usually spends about 150 days a yr on the mountain chasing cougars along with his hounds, disagrees. “Wouldn’t that be an indicator that we’re lowering the inhabitants?” he requested. “We’ve had one of the best snow yr we’ve ever had this yr. The snow is so good you could exit and observe them and not using a canine. She’s saying that the drop in numbers is as a result of they’re so arduous to hunt, however I may exit and catch one with a Labrador proper now. We’re lowering the inhabitants. There may be information to help that.”

The invoice would go into impact if it’s signed into legislation by Utah Governor Spencer Cox, who additionally has the ability to veto it. If signed, the brand new rules could be folded into the Utah Division of Wildlife’s (UDWR) searching rules on Might 23, 2023.

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