Animal Rights Activists Sue Utah DNR About Mountain Lions

Legislative changes over hunting and trapping the big cats year-round spurred two organizations to file a lawsuit.

Animal Rights Activists Sue Utah DNR About Mountain Lions

Photo: NickyPe

Two wildlife activist organizations, the Mountain Lion Foundation and Western Wildlife Conservancy, are suing the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources about a controversial legislative action that allows year-round hunting and snaring of mountain lions. The suit was filed in October in Utah’s 3rd District Court. It asserts that the legislature’s action means the DWR cannot properly manage mountain lions for the public good, which would be a violation of the state’s constitution.

The amendment to allow cougar hunting and snaring year-round was added to a conservation preservation funding bill. It was announced two days before the Utah legislative session ended earlier this year. It went into effect in May. Opponents say they were blindsided by the late addition to the bill and had little time to object. The bill removed most of the Utah DWR’s ability to manage cougar hunts.

The lawsuit names the Department of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural Resources and the Utah Wildlife Board as defendants. The latter advises the two departments as a conduit between the public and departments. The DWR still manages the big cats by requiring hunting licenses, enforcing laws and regulations and monitoring harvest rates based on the new year-round season.


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