SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Governor Cox signed a bill Friday to allow yearlong cougar hunting, Utah Mountain Lion Conservation, and the Humane Society of Utah oppose it.
HB469 took away the management of cougars from the Division of Wildlife Resources and took away the need for a separate license to hunt cougars, which are also known as mountain lions and pumas.
Now, hunters and trappers can hunt cougars any time of the year with a regular hunting license, to the Utah Mountain Lion Conservation, this is not okay.
“Today [Governor Cox] ignored Utahns united voices of sportsmen, houndsmen, wildlife biologists, conservationists, and advocates, and signed HB469 into law.” They said in a Facebook Post. “Truly a sad day. Thank you so much to everyone who contacted the Governor!”
According to their Facebook page, one of their concerns was that last-minute changes were made to HB469, which took away the management of cougars from the DWR with no notice or opportunity for the public to comment.
“This is a deceptive and unethical practice given that wildlife is held in the public trust,” the post stated.
They also said that wildlife decisions should include the DWR biologists and should not be based on personal opinions or biases. They included that wildlife studies in our state are being recognized on the world conservation stage.
“Please leave wildlife management decisions to wildlife biologists,” the post said. “You are undermining their education, research, and knowledge by passing this law.”
The Utah Mountain Lion Conservation was not the only organization that voiced concerns about HB467. The Humane Society of Utah sent a letter to Governor Cox opposing the bill.
They said that HB469 originally began as a favorable wildlife bill regulating unfair hunting and trapping methods, but last-minute lawmakers added an amendment eliminating any season regulation for cougar hunting, without public input.
“We rarely get involved in wildlife issues and rely on other organizations that are specifically created for that purpose,” the letter read. “However, in extreme cases, such as the present status of HB469 we feel it is appropriate to voice our concerns.”
The Humane Society says this change to hunting and trapping of the cougar population will mean that adult cougars will be killed during the normally protected seasons, leaving young cubs to starve. The hunting season for cougars was set between Nov. 1 and May 31 but now is all year round.
“This opposition is based upon the bill’s complete destruction of the scientific management of the cougar population,” the letter stated.
Even though the Governor signed the bill Friday, according to the Utah Mountain Lion Conservation, they will continue fighting.
“We’re in the process of discussing next steps for our mountain lions. […] The fight isn’t over,” the post said.