Rules and regulations
KEY: wildlife, cougar, game laws
Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment: November 10, 2015
Notice of Continuation: August 16, 2011
Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted law: 23-14-18; 23-14-19
(1) Under authority of Sections 23-14-18 and 23-14-19 of the Utah Code, the Wildlife Board has established this rule for taking and pursuing cougar.
(2) Specific dates, areas, number of permits, limits, and other administrative details which may change annually are published in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(1) Terms used in this rule are defined in Section 23-13-2.
(2) In addition:
(a) "Canned hunt" means that a cougar is treed, cornered, held at bay or its ability to escape is otherwise restricted for the purpose of allowing a person who was not a member of the initial hunting party to arrive and take the cougar.
(b) "Compensation" means anything of economic value in excess of $100 that is paid, loaned, granted, given, donated, or transferred to a dog handler for or in consideration of pursuing cougar for any purpose.
(c) "Cougar" means Puma concolor, commonly known as mountain lion, lion, puma, panther or catamount.
(d) "Cougar control permit" means a harvest objective permit that authorizes a person to take a second cougar on harvest objective units that have an unlimited quota.
(e) "Cougar pursuit permit" means a permit that authorizes a person to pursue cougar during designated seasons.
(f) "Dog handler" means the person in the field that is responsible for transporting, releasing, tracking, controlling, managing, training, commanding and retrieving the dogs involved in the pursuit. The owner of the dogs is presumed the dog handler when the owner is in the field during pursuit.
(g) "Evidence of sex" means the sex organs of a cougar, including a penis, scrotum or vulva.
(h) "Green pelt" means the untanned hide or skin of any cougar.
(i) "Harvest objective hunt" means any hunt that is identified as harvest objective in the hunt table of the guidebook for taking cougar.
(j) "Harvest objective permit" means any permit valid on harvest objective units, including limited-entry permits for split units after the split-unit transition date.
(k) "Immediate family member" means a livestock owner's spouse, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father, mother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepchild and grandchild.
(l) "Kitten" means a cougar less than one year of age.
(m) "Kitten with spots" means a cougar that has obvious spots on its sides or its back.
(n) "Limited entry hunt" means any hunt listed in the hunt tables of the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar, which is identified as limited entry and does not include harvest objective hunts.
(o) "Limited entry permit" means any permit obtained for a limited entry hunt by any means, including conservation permits and sportsman permits.
(p) "Private lands" means any lands that are not public lands, excluding Indian trust lands.
(q) "Public lands" means any lands owned by the state, a political subdivision or independent entity of the state, or the United States, excluding Indian trust lands, that are open to the public for purposes of engaging in pursuit.
(r) "Pursue" means to chase, tree, corner or hold a cougar at bay.
(s) "Split unit" means a cougar hunting unit that begins as a limited entry unit then transitions into a harvest objective unit.
(t) "Unlimited quota unit" means a harvest objective unit that does not have a limit on the number of cougar that may be harvested during the open season.
(u) "Waiting period" means a specified period of time that a person who has obtained a cougar permit must wait before applying for any other cougar permit.
(v) "Written permission" means written authorization from the owner or person in charge to enter upon private lands and must include:
(i) the name and signature of the owner or person in charge;
(ii) the address and phone number of the owner or person in charge;
(iii) the name of the dog handler given permission to enter the private lands;
(iv) a brief description of the pursuit activity authorized;
(v) the appropriate dates; and
(vi) a general description of the property.
(1)(a) To harvest a cougar, a person must first obtain a valid limited entry cougar permit, harvest-objective cougar permit, or cougar control permit, for the specified management units as provided in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(b) Any person who obtains a limited entry cougar permit, harvest objective cougar permit, or cougar control permit, may pursue cougar on the unit for which the permit is valid.
(2) A person may not apply for or obtain more than one cougar permit for the same season, except:
(a) as provided in Subsection R657-10-25(3);
(b) as provided in Subsection R657-10-33; or
(c) if the person is unsuccessful in the limited entry drawing, the person may purchase a harvest objective or cougar control permit.
(3) Any cougar permit purchased after the season opens is not valid until three days after the date of purchase.
(4) To obtain a cougar limited entry permit, harvest objective permit, cougar control permit, or pursuit permit, a person must possess a Utah hunting or combination license.
(1)(a) To pursue cougar without a limited entry, harvest objective, or cougar control permit, the dog handler must:
(i) obtain a valid cougar pursuit permit from a division office; or
(ii) possess the documentation and certifications required in R657-10-25(2) to pursue cougar for compensation.
(b) A cougar pursuit permit or exemption there from does not allow a person to kill a cougar.
(2) Residents and nonresidents may purchase cougar pursuit permits consistent with the requirements of this rule and the guidebooks of the Wildlife Board.
(3) To obtain a cougar pursuit permit, a person must possess a Utah hunting or combination license.
Cougar may be taken or pursued only between one-half hour before official sunrise through one-half hour after official sunset.
A person may use the following to take cougar:
(1) any firearm not capable of being fired fully automatic;
(2) a bow and arrows, including a draw-lock; and
(3) a crossbow.
(1) Cougar may not be taken with a trap, snare or any other trapping device, except as authorized by the Division of Wildlife.
(2) Cougar accidentally caught in any trapping device must be released unharmed, and must not be pursued or taken.
(3)(a) Written permission must be obtained from a division representative to remove the carcass of a cougar from any trapping device.
(b) The carcass shall remain the property of the state of Utah and must be surrendered to the division.
(1) Hunting of any wildlife is prohibited within the boundaries of all state park areas except those designated by the Division of Parks and Recreation in Section R651-614-4.
(2) Hunting with a rifle, handgun or muzzleloader in park areas designated open is prohibited within one mile of all park facilities including buildings, camp or picnic sites, overlooks, golf courses, boat ramps and developed beaches.
(3) Hunting with shotguns, crossbows and archery tackle is prohibited within one quarter mile of the above stated areas.
(1) Cougar may be taken or pursued only during open seasons and using methods prescribed in this rule and the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar. Otherwise, under the Wildlife Resources Code, it is unlawful for any person to possess, capture, kill, injure, drug, rope, trap, snare or in any way harm or transport cougar.
(2) After a cougar has been pursued, chased, treed, cornered or held at bay, a person may not, in any manner, restrict or hinder the animal's ability to escape.
(3) A person may not engage in a canned hunt.
(4) A person may not take any wildlife from an airplane or any other airborne vehicle or device or any motorized terrestrial or aquatic vehicle, including snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles.
(5) Electronic locating equipment may not be used to locate cougar wearing electronic radio devices.
(1) Except as provided in Section 23-13-17:
(a) a person may not use or cast the rays of any spotlight, headlight or other artificial light to locate protected wildlife while having in possession a firearm or other weapon or device that could be used to take or injure protected wildlife; and
(b) the use of a spotlight or other artificial light in a field, woodland or forest where protected wildlife are generally found is prima facie evidence of attempting to locate protected wildlife.
(2) The provisions of this section do not apply to:
(a) the use of the headlights of a motor vehicle or other artificial light in a usual manner where there is no attempt or intent to locate protected wildlife; or
(b) a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon in accordance with Title 53, Chapter 5, Part 7 of the Utah Code, provided the person is not utilizing the concealed weapon to hunt or take wildlife.
A person may not take a cougar for another person.
(1) Dogs may be used to take or pursue cougar only during open seasons as provided in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(2) A dog handler may pursue cougar provided he or she possesses:
(a) a valid cougar permit issued to the dog handler;
(b) a valid cougar pursuit permit; or
(c) the documentation and certifications required in R657-10-25(2) to pursue cougar for compensation.
(3) When dogs are used in the pursuit of a cougar, the licensed hunter intending to take the cougar must be present when the dogs are released and must continuously participate in the hunt thereafter until the hunt is completed.
(4) When dogs are used to take a cougar and there is not an open pursuit season, the dog handler must have:
(a) a valid cougar permit issued to the dog handler for the unit being hunted;
(b)(i) a valid cougar pursuit permit; and
(ii) be accompanied, as provided in Subsection (3), by a hunter possessing a cougar permit for the area; or
(c)(i) the documentation and certifications required in R657-10-25(2) to pursue cougar for compensation and
(ii) be accompanied, as provided in Subsection (3), by a paying client possessing a valid cougar permit for the area.
(5) A dog handler may pursue cougar under:
(a) a cougar pursuit permit only during the season and in the areas designated by the Wildlife Board in guidebook open to pursuit;
(b) a valid cougar permit only during the season and in the area designated by the Wildlife Board in guidebook for that permit; or
(c) the pursuit for compensation provisions in this rule only during the seasons and in the areas designated by the Wildlife Board in guidebook open to pursuit.
(6) When dogs are used to take cougar and there is not an open pursuit season, the owner and handler of the dogs must have a valid pursuit permit and be accompanied by a licensed hunter as provided in Subsection (3), or have a cougar permit.
(1) The carcass of a cougar must be tagged with a temporary possession tag before the carcass is moved from or the hunter leaves the site of kill as provided in Section 23-20-30.
(2) A person may not hunt or pursue a cougar after any of the notches have been removed from the tag or the tag has been detached from the permit.
(3) The temporary possession tag:
(a) must remain attached to the pelt or unskinned carcass until the permanent possession tag is attached; and
(b) is only valid for 48 hours after the date of kill.
(4) A person may not possess a cougar pelt or unskinned carcass without a valid permanent possession tag affixed to the pelt or unskinned carcass. This provision does not apply to a person in possession of a properly tagged carcass or pelt within 48 hours after the kill, provided the person was issued and is in possession of a valid permit.
(1) Evidence of sex must remain attached to the carcass or pelt of each cougar until a permanent tag has been attached by the division.
(2) The pelt and skull must be presented to the division in an unfrozen condition to allow the division to gather management data.
(3) It is mandatory that a tooth (PM1) be removed by the division at the time of permanent tagging to be used for aging purposes.
(4) The division may seize any pelt not accompanied by its skull or not having sufficient evidence of biological sex designation attached.
(1)(a) Each cougar must be taken by the permit holder to a conservation officer or division office within 48 hours after the date of kill to have a permanent possession tag affixed to the pelt or unskinned carcass and for the removal of a tooth.
(b) After regular business hours, on weekends, or on holidays, a conservation officer may be reached by contacting the local police dispatch office.
(2) A person may not possess a green pelt after the 48-hour check-in period, or ship a green pelt out of Utah, or present a green pelt to a taxidermist if the green pelt does not have a permanent possession tag attached.
Cougar that have been legally taken may be transported by the permit holder provided the cougar is properly tagged and the permittee possesses the appropriate permit.
(1) A person may export a legally taken cougar or its parts if that person has a valid permit and the cougar is properly tagged with a permanent possession tag.
(2) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped from Utah, a cougar pelt without first obtaining a shipping permit issued by an authorized division representative.
(1) A person may donate protected wildlife or their parts to another person as provided in Section 23-20-9.
(2) A green pelt of any cougar donated to another person must have a permanent possession tag affixed.
(3) The written statement of donation must be retained with the pelt.
(1) Legally obtained, tanned cougar hides may be purchased or sold.
(2) A person may not purchase, sell, offer for sale, or barter a tooth, claw, paw, or skull of any cougar.
(1) A person may not waste or permit to be wasted or spoiled any protected wildlife or their parts.
(2) The skinned carcass of a cougar may be left in the field and does not constitute waste of wildlife.
(1) If a cougar is harassing, chasing, disturbing, harming, attacking or killing livestock, or has committed such an act within the past 72 hours:
(a) in depredation cases, the livestock owner, an immediate family member or an employee of the owner on a regular payroll, and not hired specifically to take cougar, may kill the cougar;
(b) a landowner or livestock owner may notify the division of the depredation or human health and safety concerns, who shall authorize a local hunter to take the offending cougar or notify a USDA, Wildlife Services specialist; or
(c) the livestock owner may notify a USDA, Wildlife Services specialist of the depredation who may take the depredating cougar.
(2) Depredating cougar may be taken at any time by a USDA, Wildlife Services specialist, supervised by the Wildlife Services program, while acting in the performance of the person's assigned duties and in accordance with procedures approved by the division.
(3) A depredating cougar may be taken by those persons authorized in Subsection
(a) any weapon authorized for taking cougar; or
(b) with the use of snares only with written authorization from the director of the division and subject to all the conditions and restrictions set out in the written authorization.
(i) The option in Subsection (3)(b) may only be authorized in the case of a chronic depredation situation where numerous livestock have been killed by a depredating cougar and must be verified by Wildlife Services or division personnel.
(4)(a) The Division may issue depredation permits to take cougar on specified private lands and public land grazing allotments with a chronic depredation situation where numerous livestock have been killed by cougar.
(b) The Division may:
(i) issue one or more depredation permits to the affected livestock owner or a designee, provided the livestock owner does not receive monetary consideration from the designee for the opportunity to use the depredation permit;
(ii) determine the legal weapons and methods of take allowed; and
(iii) specify the area and season that the permit is valid.
(5)(a) Any cougar taken under Subsection (1)(a) or (4)(a) shall remain the property of the state and must be delivered to a division office or employee within 72 hours.
(b) The division may issue a cougar damage permit to a person who has killed a depredating cougar under Subsection (1)(a) that authorizes the person to keep the carcass.
(c) A person that takes a cougar under Subsection (1)(a) or (4)(a) may acquire and use a limited entry permit or harvest objective cougar permit in the same year.
(d) Notwithstanding Subsections (5)(b) and (5)(c), a person may retain no more than one cougar annually.
(6)(a) Hunters interested in taking depredating cougar as provided in Subsection (1)(b) may contact the division.
(b) Hunters will be contacted by the division to take depredating cougar as needed.
Each permittee who is contacted for a survey about their cougar hunting experience should participate in the survey regardless of success. Participation in the survey helps the division evaluate population trends, harvest success and collect other valuable information.
(1)(a) For each permit issued, a person may only take one cougar during the season and from the area specified on the permit.
(b) Limited entry permits may be obtained by following the application procedures provided in this rule and the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(c) Harvest-objective permits may be purchased on a first-come, first-served basis as provided in guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(d) Cougar control permits may be purchased as provided in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(2) A person may not:
(a) take or pursue a female cougar with kittens or kittens with spots; or
(b) repeatedly pursue, chase, tree, corner, or hold at bay, the same cougar during the same day after the cougar has been released.
(3) Any cougar may be taken during the prescribed seasons, except a kitten with spots, or any cougar accompanied by kittens, or any cougar accompanied by an adult.
(4) A person may not take a cougar wearing a radio collar from any areas that are published in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(5) The division may authorize hunters who have obtained a valid cougar permit to take cougar in a specified area of the state in the interest of protecting wildlife from depredation.
(6) Season dates, closed areas, harvest objective permit areas, unlimited quota units, and limited entry permit areas are published in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(7)(a) A person who obtains a limited entry cougar permit on a split unit may hunt on all harvest objective units after the date split units transition into harvest objective units. The split unit transition date is provided in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(b) A person who obtains a limited entry cougar permit on a split unit and chooses to hunt on any harvest objective unit after the transition date is subject to all harvest objective unit closure requirements provided in Sections R657-10-29.
(1) An extended or preseason hunt may be authorized by the division on selected cougar management units to control depredation or nuisance problems.
(1)(a) Except as provided in rule R657-10-3(1)(b) and Subsection (2), cougar may be pursued only by persons who have obtained a cougar pursuit permit.
(b) The cougar pursuit permit does not allow a person to:
(i) kill a cougar; or
(ii) pursue cougar for compensation.
(c) A person may pursue cougar for compensation only as provided in Subsection (2).
(d) To obtain a cougar pursuit permit, a person must possess a Utah hunting or combination license.
(2)(a) A person may pursue cougar on public lands for compensation, provided the dog handler:
(i) receives compensation from a client or customer to pursue cougar;
(ii) is a licensed hunting guide or outfitter under Title 58, Chapter 79 of the Utah Code and authorized to pursue cougar;
(iii) possesses on his or her person the Utah hunting guide or outfitter license;
(iv) possesses on his or her person all permits and authorizations required by the applicable public lands managing authority to pursue cougar for compensation; and
(v) is accompanied by the client or customer at all times during pursuit.
(b) A person may pursue cougar on private lands for compensation, provided the dog handler:
(ii) is accompanied by the client or customer at all times during pursuit; and
(iii) possesses on his or her person written permission from all private landowners on whose property pursuit takes place.
(c) A person who is an employee or agent of the Division of Wildlife Services may pursue cougar on public lands and private lands while acting within the scope of their employment.
(3) A pursuit permit is not required to pursue cougar under Subsection (2).
(4)(a) A person pursuing cougar for compensation under subsections (2)(a) and (2)(b) shall comply with all other requirements and restrictions in statute, rule and the guidebooks of the Wildlife Board regulating the pursuit and take of cougar.
(b) Any violation of, or failure to comply with the provisions of Title 23 of the Utah Code, this rule, or the guidebooks of the Wildlife Board may be grounds for suspension of the privilege to pursue cougar for compensation under this subsection, as determined by a division hearing officer.
(5) A cougar pursuit permit authorizes the holder to pursue cougar with dogs on any unit open to pursuing cougar during the seasons and under the conditions prescribed by the Wildlife Board in guidebook.
(6) A person may not:
(a) take or pursue a female cougar with kittens or kittens with spots;
(b) repeatedly pursue, chase, tree, corner or hold at bay, the same cougar during the same day; or
(c) possess a firearm or any device that could be used to kill a cougar while pursuing cougar.
(i) The weapon restrictions set forth in the subsection do not apply to a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon in accordance with Title 53, Chapter 5, Part 7 of the Utah Code, provided the person is not utilizing or attempting to utilize the concealed weapon to injure or kill cougar.
(7) If eligible, a person who has obtained a cougar pursuit permit may also obtain a limited entry cougar permit, harvest objective cougar permit, or cougar control permit.
(8) Cougar may be pursued only on limited entry units, harvest objective units, or unlimited quota units during the dates provided in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(9) A cougar pursuit permit is valid on a calendar year basis.
(10) A person must possess a valid hunting or combination license to obtain a cougar pursuit permit.
(1) Limited entry cougar permits are issued pursuant to R657-62-24.
(1) Harvest objective permits are valid only for open harvest objective management units and for the specified seasons published in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(2) Harvest objective permits are not valid in a specified management unit after the harvest objective has been met for that unit.
(1) Harvest objective permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning on the date published in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(2) Any cougar permit purchased after the season opens is not valid until three days after the date of purchase unless specifically authorized by the division.
(3) A person must possess a valid hunting or combination license to obtain a Harvest objective permit.
(1) To hunt in a harvest objective unit, a hunter must call 1-888-668-LION or visit the division's website to verify that the harvest objective unit is still open. The phone line and website will be updated each day by 12 noon. Updates become effective the following day thirty minutes before official sunrise.
(2) Harvest objective units are open to hunting until:
(a) the quota for that harvest objective unit is met and the division closes the unit; or
(b) the end of the hunting season as provided in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.
(3) Upon closure of a harvest objective unit, a hunter may not take or pursue cougar except as provided in Section R657-10-25.
(1) Any person taking a cougar with a harvest objective permit or a cougar control permit must report to the division, within 48 hours, where the cougar was taken and have a permanent tag affixed pursuant to Section R657-10-15.
(2) Failure to accurately report the correct harvest objective unit where the cougar was killed is unlawful.
(3) Any conviction for failure to accurately report, or aiding or assisting in the failure to accurately report as required in Subsection (1) shall be considered prima facie evidence of a knowing, intentional or reckless violation for purposes of permit suspension.
(1) A person may not use motor vehicles on division-owned wildlife management areas closed to motor vehicle use during the winter without first obtaining written authorization from the appropriate division regional office.
(2) The division may, in its sole discretion, authorize limited motor vehicle access to its wildlife management areas closed to such use during the winter provided:
(a) the person seeking access possesses a valid cougar permit for the area;
(b) motor vehicle access is necessary to effectively utilize the cougar permit; and
(c) motor vehicle access will not interfere with wintering wildlife or wildlife habitat.
(1) For purposes of this section, "successful prosecution" means the screening and filing of charges for the poaching incident.
(2) Any person who provides information leading to another person's arrest and successful prosecution for wanton destruction of a cougar on a limited entry cougar unit, under Section 23-20-4, may receive a permit from the division to hunt cougar on the same limited-entry cougar unit where the reported violation occurred, as provided in Subsection (3).
(3)(a) The division may issue poaching-reported reward permits only in limited-entry cougar units that have more than 10 total permits allocated.
(b) The division may issue only one poaching-reported reward permit per limited-entry cougar unit per year.
(4)(a) The division may issue only one poaching-reported reward permit for any one animal illegally taken.
(b) No more than one poaching-reported reward permit shall be issued to any one person per successful prosecution.
(c) No more than one cougar poaching-reported reward permit shall be issued to any one person in any one cougar season.
(5)(a) Poaching-reported reward permits may only be issued to the person who provides the most pertinent information leading to a successful prosecution. Permits are not transferrable.
(b) If information is received from more than one person, the director of the division shall make a determination based on the facts of the case, as to which person provided the most pertinent information leading to the successful prosecution in the case.
(c) The person providing the most pertinent information shall qualify for the poaching-reported reward permit.
(6) Any person who receives a poaching-reported reward permit must possess a Utah hunting or combination license and otherwise be eligible to hunt and obtain cougar permits as provided in all rules and regulations of the Wildlife Board and the Wildlife Resources Code.
(1)(a) The division, with approval of the Wildlife Board, may identify a harvest objective unit as an unlimited quota unit.
(b) An individual may acquire a cougar control permit to hunt on an unlimited quota unit if they first obtain:
(i) a harvest objective permit; or
(ii) a limited entry permit for a split unit and the split unit has transitioned to harvest objective status.
(c) An individual may retain a cougar lawfully harvested under a cougar control permit regardless of whether they lawfully harvested and retained a cougar under a permit listed in Subsections (1)(b)(i) or (ii).
(2) An individual may only acquire one cougar control permit each season.
(3) Cougar control permits are only valid within the boundaries of unlimited quota units and during the dates described on the permit and in the guidebook of the Wildlife Board for taking cougar.