Why Did Utah Wildlife Board Members Just Approve An Increase In Cougar Hunting Permits? Hunters Are Now Allowed To Kill 642 Cougars For So-Called “Sport”
Last week, members of the Utah Wildlife Board, a panel of seven citizens appointed by the governor, approved an increase in the number of cougars that can be hunted during the state’s upcoming season.
During the 2017–2018 season, hunters were allowed to kill 581 cougars. During the upcoming season, hunters can kill 642. How can this sick practice still be allowed to take place?
Shockingly, the number of cougars that are “allowed” to be killed will be approximately 642. 456 cougars were killed this past season, even though hunters were allowed to kill 581.
Pressure must be put on Legislators in Utah to end the so-called “sport” of cougar hunting before we lose this species in the United States to extinction. This is currently what is happening to the Florida Panther, there are only an estimated 100-230 remaining in the wild due to hunting and human-wildlife conflict.
According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, mountain lions solitary and wide-ranging nature makes it difficult to directly estimate populations. So why is Utah saying there is an increase in their mountain lion population?
Habitat fragmentation, degradation, lack of connectivity and cultural intolerance of mountain lions even on prime habitat, makes it difficult to use habitat density to extrapolate and calculate populations on a large scale. This means we just don’t have good estimates of mountain lion numbers in the United States. Nor do we know precisely what population levels are required in order to maintain genetically healthy subpopulations that are ecologically effective on the landscape.
State game agencies have estimated mountain lion populations in the United States to be between 20,000 and 40,000 lions. The main reason game agencies calculate populations is to set quotas for additional kills, and oftentimes the simple fact that more lions are being killed each year is used as an indicator that there must be more lions, which is untrue. The agencies’ biases are embedded in these estimations and misinformation.
The number of mountain lions killed annually by humans has increased dramatically everywhere mountain lions are found; their prey populations are down; and habitat is being lost at an astounding pace.
Based on the best available data at this time, Mountain Lion Foundation believes the mountain lion population in the United States is unlikely to exceed 30,000. And, many of those lions depend upon severely fragmented and degraded habitat, are in severe danger of over-hunting and road kill, are imperiled by intolerance of their presence on the landscape, and are so few and unconnected they are on the edge of genetic viability.
Utah guidelines say that 40 percent of cougars killed this hunting season can be females. And at least 15 percent of the cougars killed must be five years of age or older. During the 2017–2018 season, 32 percent of the cougars killed were females. And 16 percent of the cougars killed were five years of age or older.
The hunting guidelines in Utah have no merit, as there is no real scientific evidence of cougar numbers increasing in Utah or any other state for that matter. In actuality, cougar numbers have declined rapidly throughout the United States because of hunting, poisoning and road collisions.
Utah’s hunting guidelines are shocking to say the least and we believe that cougar hunting should be banned nationwide.
You Can Help Save Cougars By Making A Donation to The Mountian Lion Foundation HERE!
Call the Division of Wildlife Resources Salt Lake City office at 801-538-4700 and demand an END to cougar hunting!