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Board approves cougar hunting rules

Salt Lake City — Hunters took 331 cougars in Utah during the 2011–2012 season. And they're on pace to take that many again during the current season, which ends Nov. 10.

Rules approved by the Utah Wildlife Board should result in hunters taking about 330 cougars during Utah’s upcoming season.

Rules approved by the Utah Wildlife Board should result in hunters taking about 330 cougars during Utah’s upcoming season.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

On Aug. 22, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved hunting rules that should result in about the same number of cougars being taken during the upcoming 2013–2014 season.

All of the rules the board approved are available in the 2013–2014 Utah Cougar Guidebook.

The following are among the changes the board approved:

  • Hunt tables in the new guidebook will look a little different for Utah's nine cougar management areas. Because cougars are managed at a unit and area level, it's important to read the guidebook carefully. John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, encourages you to look closely at the hunt tables at the back of the guidebook. "Make sure you're familiar with the quotas on the unit you hunt," he says.
  • The Abajo and Elk Ridge units in southeastern Utah have been combined into a single unit called the San Juan unit.
  • The pursuit season will close May 30, 2014 on all units in the state.

Managing cougars

When it comes to managing cougars, Shivik says the agency's biologists are trying to do two things: Protect deer and bighorn sheep from predation while keeping a sustainable cougar population on areas where deer and sheep are doing well.

"It's a balancing act," he says.

The current cougar plan allows cougars to be hunted more heavily in some areas of the state than in others. "The plan allows us to maintain cougar populations while also giving us the flexibility to reduce conflicts with cougars in some areas in the state," he says.

In some areas in Utah, a variety of factors have resulted in deer numbers that are not as high as they could be.

"Reducing the number of cougars is one thing we can do to try to help the deer herds in those areas," Shivik says. "Predators aren't always the reason deer numbers are low. But allowing hunters to take more cougars is one thing we can try to see if it helps. If it doesn't help, we can back off and consider other options."

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