SALT LAKE CITY — Biologists with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources are recommending hunters be given the opportunity to take 565 cougars in the state compared to last year’s 531.

In addition to helping protect deer, bighorn sheep and livestock, hunters help biologists manage the state’s cougar population.

Darren DeBloois, game mammals coordinator for the division, said in a statement those who take a cougar must bring the animal to a division biologist or a conservation officer to be examined. They determine whether the animal is male or female and how old it is by removing and analyzing one of its teeth.

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 said in the statement, “so keeping plenty of females in the population is important. 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 dictates no more than 40 percent of the cougars hunters take can be females, and at least 15 percent of the cougars taken must be five years of age or older.

During the 2016-17 season, 28 percent of the cougars taken were females and 23 percent were 5 years old or older.

All of the biologists’ cougar and bobcat hunting latest recommendations are available at wildlife.utah.gov/public_meetings. After hunters have reviewed the proposals, they are encouraged to share their thoughts with Regional Advisory Council members at an upcoming meeting or by sending an email.

The comments will then be shared with members of the Utah Wildlife Board, which will meet in Salt Lake City on Aug. 31 to approve cougar and bobcat hunting recommendations for the 2017-18 hunts.

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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

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