Available Cougar Hunting Permits Increase as Population Thrives

If your heart is set on hunting cougars, Utah may be the state to put on your must-visit list as permits are increasing for the upcoming season.
Available Cougar Hunting Permits Increase as Population Thrives

If you're heart is set on hunting cougars, Utah may be the state to put on your must-visit list as permits are increasing for the upcoming season.

The Utah Divsion of Wildlife Resources has proposed that 653 cougars be taken by hunters during the 2018-19 season. That's an increase from 581 last year. The quota is rarely met; only 456 were killed of the 581 allowed in 2017.

"Cougars are tough to hunt," Darren DeBloois, game mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources said in a release. "Not every hunter who gets a permit will take one."

The proposed cougar and bobcat hunting recommendations will be discussed at public Regional Advisory Council meetings before those RAC members offer input to the Utah Wildlife Board. The board will meet in Salt Lake City on Aug. 30 to approve cougar and bobcat hunting recommendations for Utah's 2018–19 seasons.

Dates, times and locations for the RAC meetings are as follows:

Cougar population

DeBloois says Utah's cougar population is doing well, with lots of the big cats found across the state. Successful cougar hunters must take the animal to a DWR biologist or a conservation officer for data collection of age and gender.

DeBloois said the number of females and the number of adults in a cougar population are the key factors in keeping the population healthy and strong.

"A male cougar will breed with several females," he says, "so keeping plenty of females in the population is important. The number of adults is also important. A healthy population will have plenty of adults. If the number of adults starts to decline, we know the overall number of cougars in the population is declining too."

Utah's Cougar Management Plan says not more than 40 percent of the cougars hunters take can be females. At least 15 percent of the cougars taken must be five years of age or older.

During the 2017–18 season, only 32 percent of the cougars taken were females. Sixteen percent of the cougars taken were five years of age or older.

"Utah's cougar population has plenty of females in it," DeBloois says, "and plenty of adults, too. For those reasons, we're recommending a slight permit increase for the 2018–19 season."

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