SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A Utah animal shelter is urging Gov. Spencer Cox to reconsider a bill that will allow cougar hunting to anyone with a license all year long.

In a letter sent on Friday, March 17, the Humane Society of Utah says H.B. 469 initially began as a favorable wildlife bill regulating unfair hunting and trapping methods, but lawmakers added an amendment that will eliminate any season regulation for cougar hunting without asking for 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 HB 469 we feel it is appropriate to voice our concerns.”

The Humane Society says unlimited hunting and trapping of the cougar population will result in adult cougars being killed during the normally protected periods, leaving the young cubs to starve. Currently, the hunting season for cougars is set between Nov. 1 and May 31.

“This opposition is based upon the bill’s complete destruction of the scientific management of the cougar population,” the letter stated.

The amendment to allow open season hunting of cougar passed the Utah Senate on March 1 with a 21-6 vote, and the bill was sent to the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.

“We’re getting an increase in our cougar numbers across the state,” said Sen. Scott Sandall (R-Trementon) during the amendment hearing. “We have a program in place… that allows cougars to be taken year-round with a hunting license.”

The amendment drew criticisms from members of the Mountain Lion Foundation, who take issue with how it was adopted without a hearing or debate.

“This move by Utah would send the state back decades, to an era when mountain lions were eradicated in much of the United States,” a statement from Mountain Lion Foundation read.

Other than regulating cougar hunting season, the bill also seeks to prohibit the use of trail cameras to hunt an animal on public land during the period between July 31 and December 31.

The governor is required to veto a bill within 10 days of it being presented. The 10 days do not include Sunday and the day it was sent, which means Cox has until March 24 to make a decision. The bill will become law without Cox’s signature after the 10-day period.