This letter, about the Utah Cougar Management Plan, has been sent to the members of the Utah Wildlife Board.
Gregory Sheehan, Division Director,
Regional Advisory Councils and Wildlife Board
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
P.O. Box 146301
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6301
Re: Utah’s Cougar Management Plan
Dear Director Sheehan and Members of the Wildlife Board:
I am writing to ask the Wildlife Board not to adopt the Cougar Management Plan as it is currently written, for the following reasons.
The stated mission of the DWR is “to serve the people of Utah as trustee and guardian of the state’s wildlife.”
The quotes below are from the draft Utah Cougar Management Plan and are followed by my comments.
“Nearly all cougars harvested in Utah are taken with the aid of dogs.”
Objection: Using dogs to chase and hunt down any animal is barbaric and inhumane. If hunting can only be done in a way that causes extreme terror to the animal then it is hardly a “sport,” and it should not be done. This form of hunting is also dangerous and inhumane for the dogs.
“The bag limit is 1 cougar per season and kittens and females accompanied by young are protected from harvest. Currently the cougar-hunting season runs from late November through early June on both limited entry and most harvest objective units.”
Objection: Female cougars leave behind their young kittens while they go off to hunt. Allowing the mothers to be killed leaves the kittens to die of starvation, which is cruel and inhumane. Allowing a hunt in which females are killed to occur in the spring means that there will definitely be kittens that are orphaned. Not permitting orphaned kittens to be rehabilitated and released is also inhumane.
“Pursuit (chase or no-kill) seasons provide additional recreational opportunities over most of the State.”
Objection: Cougars, like all wild animals, are living, sentient, conscious beings, who deserve to live out their lives in peace, as nature intended. For them to be pursued, tormented, harassed, and persecuted (including separating mothers from their kittens) is a form of severe cruelty which cannot be “recreational” because enjoying causing suffering to animals is unworthy of any human being.
The section “Outreach and education”
Comment: For the most part, these are very valuable and worthwhile goals, which, as they are implemented, will surely result in improved guardianship of Utah’s wildlife.
The section “Managing Cougar Populations Under Predator Management Plans”
Objection: This section relies on two incorrect assumptions:
One, that where there are fewer cougars there will be an increase in the populations of deer and bighorn sheep, and
Two: that the primary purpose of wildlife management is to provide greater opportunities for hunting.
Even if the primary purpose of wildlife management were to provide increased opportunities for hunting, the strategy of killing more cougars in order to raise the numbers of deer would not work. It is unscientific, not based on facts, and is counterproductive.
Nature regulates the populations of predator and prey to establish a balance. Where there are predators like cougars, wolves, bears, coyotes, foxes and bobcats, they serve to move elk, deer, and other prey along so that they do not linger in one spot, causing overgrazing and destruction of vegetation.
Concentrations of deer and elk destroy habitat – eliminating trees, grass, and plants, especially along river banks – this results in depleting the area of many natural species, not only plants and wild flowers, but also birds, mice, fish, and many small mammals and reptiles. The eco-system is profoundly disrupted and disturbed – and, as a further effect, the deer and elk are left with no food and begin to starve.
The answer to this is not more hunting; it is the restoration of the natural eco-system. Managing wildlife by killing first one species, then another does not protect wildlife; instead it is deleterious to all species of wildlife and to wild habitat. It is also harmful to the cause of hunters by harming wild lands and the species that live there.
The letter on this topic sent to you by HSUS cites, in the bibliography, 40 different sources that substantiate this, on a scientific basis. This letter explains clearly and coherently the scientific evidence for allowing predator and prey to establish a natural balance which benefits all wildlife.
It should also be borne in mind that most Utah residents are not hunters, and far more income is contributed to the state of Utah by both Utah residents and visitors who are engaged in many forms of wildlife watching and appreciating the beauty of Utah’s wild lands.
Please re-do the Utah Cougar Management Plan to greatly cut down the numbers of cougars hunted, to reduce the hunting seasons to eliminate spring hunts, and to eliminate the inhumane and excessively cruel forms of hunting.
Thank you for considering this viewpoint.
How you can help:
If you have time to send a quick email before tomorrow morning, to the Utah Wildlife Board, that would be great. The Wildlife Board will be holding a public meeting August 27, 2015, at 9 am, at the Department of Natural Resources Auditorium, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss the Cougar Management Plan.
You can read the Cougar Management Plan here.
For the email addresses of Members of the Wildlife Board, click here.
Photo: © Volodymyr Byrdyak / dreamstime.com