Thursday, 07 July 2011 14:04
A deer study that's underway in Utah has provided two things—better information about the number of adult deer that are surviving from year to year and a chance to manage cougars in a way that should benefit deer the most.
The DWR is recommending a cougar hunting change. The change would allow biologists to better balance Utah's cougar and deer populations.
Photo by Lynn Chamberlain
Starting with the 2011–2012 cougar hunting season, biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources would like to make the following changes:
More precise management
Kevin Bunnell, Wildlife Section chief for the DWR, says creating cougar management areas based on areas in the state where deer have had radio collars placed on them is a more precise way to balance the number of cougars and the number of deer.
"The study is giving us up-to-date information about the deer herds in these areas," he says.
Bunnell says predation by cougars is just one of several reasons why adult deer die. And it's probably not the major reason deer herds in many areas are struggling. "But when the number of adult deer in a herd is below average," Bunnell says, "that's an indication that cougars might be one of the factors that are limiting the growth of the herd.
"In a situation like this," he says, "temporarily increasing the number of cougars that are taken can allow a deer population to expand."
Bunnell says cougars rarely prey on deer fawns. Instead, they focus mostly on adult deer.
Helping bighorn sheep
Eight of the nine cougar management areas are centered around areas where radio collars were placed on female deer starting in 2009. The ninth "area" is actually three separate areas that have large populations of bighorn sheep.
DWR biologists want to manage the cougar areas that have bighorn sheep differently:
Learn more, share your ideas
Information about all of the cougar hunting changes the DWR is recommending for the 2011–2012 season is available at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
After you've reviewed the ideas, you can let your Regional Advisory Council members know your thoughts by attending your upcoming RAC meeting or by sending an email to them.
RAC chairmen will share the input they receive with members of the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Aug. 18 to approve rules for Utah's 2011–2012 cougar hunt.
Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:
You can also provide your comments to your RAC via email. Email addresses for your RAC members are available at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings.
The group each RAC member represents (sportsman, non-consumptive, etc.) is listed under each person's email address. You should direct your email to the people on the RAC who represent your interest.
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