The Utah Wildlife Board boosted cougar searching quotas Thursday for the fourth 12 months in a row, balloting to hike allows for the upcoming season to 690, representing approximately a quarter of the kingdom’s lion population.
Critics say that stage of hunting stress is not sustainable, but department of wildlife assets biologists said they have got recorded consistent increases in cougar numbers within the beyond few years despite better harvests. Cougars’ population increase tracked with profits in Utah’s mule deer herds, said Darren DeBloois, DWR’s sport mammals coordinator.
DWR surveys imply the country has 2,seven-hundred mountain lions, more than double the entire in 2007.
“Our goal is to keep a healthy cougar populace in the current distribution of the species across Utah, at the same time as also considering human and farm animals safety, in addition to the health of other wildlife species that cougars prey on,” DeBloois stated. “As a part of this, we factor in a percentage of older age animals, breeding females and healthy cougars inside the population.”
The board unanimously agreed with DeBloois’ extended harvest guidelines, although it tinkered with some of the numbers in precise looking units wherein board members felt extra or fewer cougar takes are in order. It approved an increase of forty six permits over ultimate 12 months — and 12 more than the division recommended — but the usual number of cougars killed with the aid of hunters will now not possibly attain 690.
“Cougars are difficult to hunt,” DeBloois stated.
At the equal assembly, the board voted to reduce searching stress at the cougar’s smaller cousin because recent harvest statistics factors to troubling signs in Utah’s bobcat population. It capped the overall quantity of bobcat permits bought at eighty% of final 12 months’s, permitting a maximum of 6,460.
“Lower bobcat population numbers may be related to the lower in the range of rabbits in the nation,” DeBloois stated.
However it become the cougar quotas that generated the most ardour at Thursday’s assembly.
The circulate to increase looking opportunities for the massive cats got here over the objections of many “nonconsumptive” natural world fans who insisted it disregards sound science to soothe ranchers and huge-game hunters who see cougar predation as a chance to their livelihoods.
Jean Tabin, a Salt Lake town ophthalmologist, fears Utah’s cougar population is drawing close a “tipping point” within the face of hunting levels that greater than double what natural world specialists say is suitable for maintaining a healthy population.