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Cougar Hunting Regulations in Utah: 2023 Updates

New Legislation and Cougar Hunting with Licenses

In March 2023, the Utah Legislature implemented significant changes to cougar hunting laws. Effective May 3, 2023, individuals are allowed to hunt cougars using any legal weapon, provided they hold a valid hunting or combination license. Hunters must adhere to the regulations detailed in Utah Administrative Rule R657-10 and the current guidebook. These changes facilitate broader opportunities for licensed hunters to engage in cougar hunting activities while ensuring legal compliance and wildlife management objectives.

Annual Cougar Take Limit and Reporting

Notably, there is no annual cap on the number of cougars a hunter can harvest. However, each cougar taken must be reported and checked in at a designated Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) office within 48 hours of the harvest. Detailed reporting requirements are outlined on page 21 of the guidebook, emphasizing the importance of monitoring and managing the cougar population effectively.

Regulation Cycle and Trail Camera Adjustments

The regulatory cycle for cougar hunting now aligns with the calendar year, running from January 1 to December 31. These changes, effective from May 3 through December 31, 2023, are part of a broader initiative to streamline hunting regulations and make them more accessible to the public. Alongside these adjustments, significant modifications to trail camera regulations have been introduced. From July 31 to December 31, the use of trail cameras on public land is restricted, with exceptions for certain research and monitoring activities. These new regulations also address the commercial aspects of trail camera footage related to hunting.

Specific Unit Dog Restrictions and Trapping Provisions

Dog usage in cougar hunting is generally permitted throughout the state with a valid license. However, specific units such as La Sal, San Juan Mtns, and Book Cliffs, East have seasonal restrictions, prohibiting the use of dogs from March 31 to November 2, 2023. Additionally, under the new legislative rule, individuals may trap or snare cougars if they possess the appropriate licenses and comply with Utah Admin. Rule R657-11. The current Utah Furbearer Guidebook provides comprehensive details about trapping regulations and requirements, ensuring ethical and legal trapping practices.

Regulations for Equipment  and Methods of Take in Cougar Hunting

Approved Hunting Equipment

The firearms and archery equipment permitted for cougar hunting in Utah are consistent with those allowed for big-game hunts. This alignment ensures that hunters are equipped with tools that are effective for the hunt while prioritizing safety and ethical hunting practices.

Prohibited Weapons and Devices

Certain types of firearms and aiming devices are strictly prohibited during cougar hunts, including:

  • Fully Automatic Firearms: Any firearm capable of firing more than one round with a single trigger pull.
  • Light-Enhancement Devices: Any device that casts a visible beam of light to aid in targeting.
  • Computerized Targeting Systems: Firearms equipped with technology that marks a target, calculates firing solutions, and discharges automatically.
  • Remote Control Devices: Any computer or device used to remotely control the aiming and discharge of a firearm.

However, laser range-finding devices and illuminated sight pins for archery equipment do not fall under these restrictions.

Specifics for Rifles, Airguns, Shotguns, and Crossbows

When choosing a firearm or archery equipment for cougar hunting, the following regulations apply:

  • Rifles and Shotguns: Must fire centerfire cartridges with expanding bullets. Shotguns should be 20 gauge or larger, using slug ammunition or buckshot of size 00 or larger.
  • Airguns: Must be pneumatically powered, pressurized through a separate charging device, and fire a bolt or arrow meeting specific length and speed requirements.
  • Crossbows: Must have a minimum draw weight of 125 pounds, a positive mechanical safety mechanism, and use arrows or bolts that comply with length and broadhead specifications.
    • Crossbow Handling: It's unlawful to carry a cocked crossbow with an arrow or bolt in or on a motorized vehicle on public highways or rights-of-way, with certain exceptions detailed in R657-12-4.
    • Prohibited Attachments: No crossbow bolt used for hunting should have any chemical, explosive, or electronic device attached.
    • Scope Allowance: Crossbows may be equipped with fixed or variable magnifying scopes for better targeting.

Handgun Regulations for Cougar Hunting

Minimum Requirements for Handguns

In Utah, hunters are permitted to use handguns for taking cougars, but these firearms must meet specific criteria to ensure they are effective and safe for the hunt:

  • Caliber: The handgun must be a minimum of .24 caliber, ensuring sufficient stopping power and effectiveness for hunting large predators like cougars.
  • Cartridge and Bullet Type: It must fire a centerfire cartridge with an expanding bullet. This type of ammunition is chosen for its reliability and capability to ethically take down a cougar.
  • Energy: The handgun must develop at least 500 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. This energy requirement is set to ensure that the firearm has enough force to humanely and effectively harvest a cougar.

Muzzleloader Regulations for Cougar Hunting

Qualifications for Muzzleloaders

Muzzleloaders are a popular choice among hunters for their historical significance and unique hunting experience. When hunting cougars with a muzzleloader in Utah, the following requirements must be met:

  • Muzzle Loading: The firearm can be loaded only from the muzzle, true to the traditional design of muzzleloaders.
  • Sights: Open sights, peep sights, or scopes (variable or fixed power, including magnifying scopes) are permitted to aid in accuracy and targeting.
  • Barrel Specifications: The muzzleloader must have only one barrel, which should be at least 18 inches long to ensure accuracy and safety.
  • Single Shot: It cannot be capable of firing more than once without being reloaded, adhering to the traditional operation of muzzleloaders.
  • Loading Components: The powder and bullet—or powder, sabot, and bullet—must not be bonded together as one unit for loading. This ensures the traditional loading method is maintained.
  • Powder: It must be loaded with black powder or a black powder substitute. The substitute can contain some nitrocellulose but must not include smokeless powder.
  • Bullet or Projectile: The bullet or projectile used must be lead or expanding and at least .40 caliber in size, ensuring sufficient force and impact for hunting cougars.
  • Weight Requirements: The bullet must weigh at least 130 grains, or if using a sabot, it must be at least 170 grains.

Dedicated Use of Authorized Equipment

Hunters choosing to use a muzzleloader for cougar hunts must exclusively use the equipment authorized in the regulations. This means adhering strictly to the types of muzzleloaders, projectiles, and powders described in the guidelines to ensure a legal and ethical hunt.

Archery Equipment Regulations for Cougar Hunting

General Usage

Archery equipment is permitted for cougar hunting, offering hunters a traditional and challenging method of harvesting game. The following guidelines are set to ensure that the equipment used is effective and safe.

Requirements for Bows and Arrows

To ensure ethical hunting and the welfare of the animal, the following requirements are established for bows and arrows:

  • Bow Pull: Your bow must have a minimum pull of 30 pounds at the draw or peak, whichever comes first. This ensures the bow has sufficient force to humanely take down a cougar.
  • Arrowheads: Arrowheads must have two or more sharp cutting edges. Non-expanding arrowheads must not be able to pass through a 7/8-inch ring. If using expanding arrowheads, they must also not pass through a 7/8 inch ring when expanded. This requirement is to ensure that the arrow causes a quick and humane kill.
  • Arrow Length: Arrows must be at least 20 inches long, measuring from the tip of the arrowhead to the tip of the nock. This length contributes to the stability and accuracy of the shot.

Additional Equipment Considerations

  • Range-finding Devices: Bows may be equipped with range-finding devices to assist in accurately judging distances, thereby increasing the likelihood of a successful and ethical shot.
  • Transport of Arrows: When carrying arrows in or on a vehicle, they must be in an arrow quiver or a closed case to ensure safety and compliance with transport regulations.

Dedicated Use of Authorized Equipment

Hunters opting to use archery equipment must adhere strictly to the authorized types of bows and arrows described in the regulations. This commitment ensures that the hunting equipment is used responsibly and effectively, adhering to the ethical standards of hunting.

Regulations for Using Traps and Trapping Devices in Cougar Hunting

Trapping as a Method of Taking Cougars

Starting from May 3, 2023, trapping has been established as a permissible method for taking cougars in Utah. This method is subject to strict regulations to ensure ethical practices and the safety of both the animals and the public.

Compliance with Administrative Rules

To legally trap cougars, individuals must comply with all regulations outlined in Utah Administrative Rule R657-11, which pertains to taking furbearers and trapping. These rules are detailed and designed to govern the humane and effective use of traps and trapping devices.

Regulations for Carrying Loaded Firearms in Vehicles in Utah

General Prohibition

Utah law generally prohibits carrying loaded firearms in or on a vehicle to ensure public safety and prevent accidental discharge.

Conditions for Carrying Loaded Handguns in Vehicles

Under specific conditions, individuals are allowed to carry loaded handguns in or on vehicles:

  • Vehicle Ownership: The individual must own the vehicle or have explicit permission from the vehicle's owner to carry a loaded firearm inside it.
  • Type of Firearm: The loaded firearm must be a handgun. This provision is specific to handguns and does not extend to rifles or shotguns.
  • Age Requirement: The individual carrying the loaded handgun must be 18 years of age or older.

Definition of Loaded Firearms

Understanding what constitutes a "loaded" firearm is critical under the law:

  • Pistols, Revolvers, Rifles, and Shotguns: These are considered loaded if there is an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile in the firing position. Additionally, pistols and revolvers are considered loaded if an unexpended cartridge, shell, or projectile is in a position where manual operation of any mechanism once would cause it to be fired.
  • Muzzleloading Firearms: A muzzleloading firearm is considered loaded when it is capped or primed and has a powder charge and ball or shot in the barrel or cylinders.

Prohibition of Carrying Dangerous Weapons Under the Influence

Legal Restrictions

Under Utah Code § 76-10-528, it is illegal to carry a dangerous weapon, including firearms used for cougar hunting, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This law is in place to ensure the safety of the individual and the public by preventing impaired judgment and coordination, which are critical when handling weapons.

Special Restrictions in Hunting Areas

Understanding Restricted Areas

While many locations in Utah are available for hunting, certain areas have specific restrictions related to hunting, weapons, and access to ensure safety and protect certain lands and facilities.

Restrictions on Discharging Firearms

Under Utah Code § 76-10-508, there are several circumstances where discharging a firearm or dangerous weapon is prohibited:

  • Vehicles: Discharging a weapon from a vehicle is not allowed.
  • Highways: It is illegal to discharge a weapon from, upon, or across any highway.
  • Infrastructure: Shooting at power lines, signs, railroad equipment, or facilities is prohibited.
  • State Park Areas: Discharging firearms within state park camps or picnic sites, overlooks, golf courses, boat ramps, or developed beaches is forbidden.
  • Proximity to Buildings and Animals: Without written permission, discharging a weapon within 600 feet of a house, dwelling, building, or structure where domestic animals are kept or fed is prohibited.

Hunting in State Parks

While hunting is allowed within the boundaries of state park areas, certain parks or sections may be closed to hunting by the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation. Hunters should consult the specific regulations of the park they are interested in or visit stateparks.utah.gov/resources/hunting-at-state-park for guidelines.

Compliance with State Laws

Even in areas where hunting is permitted, state laws regarding the possession and discharge of dangerous weapons must be adhered to. This includes all the specific restrictions listed above and any additional local or park-specific rules. Hunters are encouraged to review these laws and regulations thoroughly before embarking on their hunting excursions to ensure a lawful and safe experience.

Hunting Hours, Methods, and Restrictions for Cougar Hunting in Utah

Hunting Hours

Hunting Timeframe: Pursuit or taking of cougars is permitted from 30 minutes before official sunrise until 30 minutes after official sunset. This regulation ensures that hunting occurs during hours of sufficient natural light for visibility and safety.

Prohibited Methods and Practices

Several methods and practices are prohibited when hunting cougars to ensure ethical and safe hunting:

  • Weapon and Pursuit Restrictions: Only the methods listed in the guidebook are allowed for taking or pursuing cougars. For trapping, refer to the Utah Furbearer Guidebook.
  • Harming or Restricting Cougars: It is unlawful to injure, kill, or restrict a cougar's ability to escape, ensuring respect for the animal and its well-being.
  • Using Dogs on Collared Cougars: Dogs cannot be used to harvest a cougar wearing a GPS tracking collar in an active research study area.
  • Canned Hunts: Engaging in a canned hunt, where animals are confined in an area to increase the likelihood of a kill, is prohibited.
  • Aerial and Motorized Hunts: Taking cougars from airplanes, drones, or motorized vehicles is illegal.
  • Electronic Locating Equipment: Using electronic equipment to locate cougars wearing radio devices is not allowed.

Trail Cameras and Data

New legislation effective May 3, 2023, outlines the use of trail cameras on public land and the sale of data:

  • Prohibition Period: Use of trail cameras and similar devices on public land is prohibited from July 31 to December 31, with exceptions for research and monitoring.
  • Sale or Purchase of Data: The sale or purchase of trail camera footage or data related to the take or attempted take of big game, cougars, or bears is illegal.
  • Private Property Use: Trail cameras with internal data storage are allowed on private property for taking protected wildlife.

For more information, visit Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources.

Spotlighting

Spotlighting, or using artificial light to locate wildlife while in possession of a weapon, is strictly prohibited when hunting cougars. This restriction ensures hunting is conducted fairly and without undue advantage or harm to wildlife.

Party Hunting

Individuals must not harvest a cougar on behalf of another person, ensuring that each licensed hunter is responsible for their hunting actions.

Use of Dogs

Dogs may be used to take or pursue cougars only during open hours. However, they cannot be used on cougars wearing a GPS tracking collar in an active research area. The licensed hunter intending to take the cougar must be present and actively participate in the hunt from the moment the dogs are released.

Possession and Transportation of Harvested Cougars

Evidence of Sex and Age

Maintaining Evidence: After harvesting a cougar, it's required that evidence of the animal's sex remains attached to the carcass or pelt until a Division employee can attach a permanent tag. This is vital for identifying the animal and ensuring that hunting regulations regarding sex-specific quotas or restrictions are adhered to.

Presentation to Division: The pelt and skull must be presented to the Division in an unfrozen condition, allowing biologists to gather essential management data. During this process, two smaller teeth will be removed for age determination, aiding in population and health studies.

Harvest Location: Exact harvest location details, preferably GPS coordinates, must be provided. This information is critical for wildlife management and study purposes.

Permanent Tag

Tagging Requirement: Within 48 hours of harvesting a cougar, the licensed hunter must present the animal to a conservation officer, biologist, or Division office for tagging.

Permanent Possession Tag: A Division employee will affix a permanent possession tag to the pelt or unskinned carcass. This tag is crucial for legal possession and future transportation of the cougar.

Post-Tagging Possession: Without a permanent tag, it's illegal to possess an unskinned carcass or green pelt beyond the 48-hour window or to ship a green pelt out of Utah or present it to a taxidermist.

Transporting Cougar

License Holder Transportation: If you have legally harvested a cougar and possess a valid Utah hunting or combination license (physically or on the DWR app), you may transport the carcass.

Exporting a Cougar from Utah

Exporting Requirements: A legally taken cougar or its parts may be exported from Utah if accompanied by a valid license and properly tagged with a permanent possession tag.

Shipping Permit: Before shipping a cougar pelt from Utah, a shipping permit must be obtained from a Division office, ensuring that all transportation of cougar parts complies with wildlife management regulations.

Cougar Harvest Reporting and Administrative Checkpoints

Harvest Reporting Requirements

After taking a cougar, hunters have specific responsibilities:

  • Contact Division: You must contact the Division within 48 hours of taking a cougar.
  • Provide Location: Accurately report the exact location of the take, preferably providing GPS coordinates.
  • Tagging Process: Meet with a Division employee to have a permanent tag affixed to the carcass. This tagging is a critical step for legal possession and future transportation of the cougar.

Legal Implications

Failing to accurately report or neglecting to report the hunting location can lead to legal consequences, including the suspension of hunting privileges. Accuracy in reporting is vital for wildlife management and legal compliance.

Administrative Checkpoints

Conservation officers and biologists actively monitor the taking and possession of cougars:

  • Monitoring Duties: As trustees and custodians of Utah's wildlife, Division officers ensure compliance with required permits, firearms, and equipment used in cougar hunting.
  • Expected Encounters: Hunters should expect to encounter conservation officers and biologists in the field and at checkpoints. These encounters are part of the monitoring process.
  • Cooperation with Officers: When contacted by a conservation officer, hunters are required to provide all requested items, including licenses, permits, hunting devices, and any cougars taken. This cooperation allows for the collection of valuable data on cougar populations.

Participating in Surveys

The Division may contact hunters for surveys regarding their cougar hunting experience. Participation in these surveys is highly encouraged:

  • Contribution to Wildlife Management: Your responses help evaluate population trends, assess harvest success, and gather other valuable information.
  • Value of Data: The collected data contributes to informed decisions on wildlife management and conservation strategies.

Guidelines for Disposal, Donation, and Sale of Wildlife in Utah

Donating Protected Wildlife

Permissible Locations: Donations of protected wildlife or its parts are allowed only at certain locations, such as the donor's or recipient's residence, a meat locker, a storage plant, or a meat processing or taxidermy facility.

Donation Documentation: A written statement must accompany the donated wildlife or parts, detailing:

  • The number and species donated.
  • The date of the donation.
  • The donor's license or permit number and the permanent possession tag number.
  • The signature of the donor.

Tagging and Documentation for Cougar Pelts: Any green pelt of a cougar donated must have a permanent possession tag affixed, and the recipient must retain the written statement of donation.

Purchasing or Selling Cougar Parts

Tanned Hides: It's legal to purchase or sell legally obtained, tanned cougar hides. Prohibited Items: The purchase, sale, or barter of a tooth, claw, paw, or skull of any cougar is prohibited.

Waste of Wildlife

Prohibition of Waste: Any protected wildlife or its parts must not be wasted. This includes ensuring all usable parts of the animal are utilized appropriately and ethically. Cougar Carcass: The skinned carcass of a cougar may be left in the field, which is not considered a waste of wildlife according to Utah regulations.

Aiding or Assisting in Violations

Prohibited Assistance: Aiding or assisting another person in violating any provisions of the Wildlife Resources code, rule, proclamation, or guidebook is illegal.

Penalties: Individuals who aid or assist in violations are subject to the same penalties as those imposed for the primary violation.

Essential Guidelines for Cougar Hunting in Utah

Licensing and Legal Requirements

To engage in cougar hunting or trapping in Utah, securing a valid hunting or combination license is mandatory. Interested individuals can acquire these licenses through the official Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website, license agents, Division offices, or via telephone at 800-221-0659. Detailed instructions and further information are provided on page 9 of the guidebook.

Harvesting Restrictions and Compliance

It is unlawful to use dogs to harvest collared cougars in units designated as active research areas. Hunters must consult the guidebook or the online resource for a comprehensive list of these specific units (see information box on page 12). Additionally, compliance with child support laws is essential, as restrictions may apply to license purchasers in arrears. Contact the Office of Recovery Services for more details or to arrange payment schedules.

Technological and Informational Aids

Utah's Hunting and Fishing app is a valuable tool for hunters, offering the convenience of storing digital licenses and permits. Users are encouraged to download this free app for easy access to essential documents. Moreover, hunters are required to provide exact harvest locations, preferably in GPS coordinates, when checking in a cougar. This precise information is critical for wildlife management and can be prepared in advance (details on page 18).

Staying Updated and Informed

The Division of Wildlife Resources is committed to keeping hunters informed about any changes that may impact their hunting activities. Hunters are encouraged to stay connected via the Division's website, sign up for email updates, and follow social media channels. Additionally, the trial hunting program may allow first-time hunters to experience hunting without completing the traditional Hunter Education requirements (see box on page 9 for details).

Maps, Boundaries, and Corrections

Accurate maps and boundary descriptions are vital for legal and successful hunting. Hunters can access the latest maps and boundary information online at the Utah Hunt Planner. In the event of errors or updates in the printed guidebook, the Division will issue corrections on the official website, ensuring hunters have access to the most current information.

Non-Discrimination Policy

The Division operates under strict non-discrimination policies in compliance with multiple federal acts, ensuring no individual is excluded from participation or denied benefits based on race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Those who believe they have been discriminated against or seek further information on civil rights or non-discrimination policies should visit the Department of Interior's official civil rights webpage.

Licensing and Youth Accompaniment for Cougar Hunting

Mandatory Licensing for Cougar Hunting

According to Utah Codes §§ 23-19-22.5 and 23-20-20, anyone aiming to hunt cougars in Utah is required to possess a valid hunting or combination license. This regulation ensures that all individuals engaging in hunting activities are registered and compliant with the state's wildlife management and conservation laws. Licenses can be obtained through various official channels, ensuring accessibility for all hunters.

Supervision Requirements for Young Hunters

The state of Utah places a strong emphasis on safety and education, particularly for young hunters. As stipulated in Utah Code § 23-20-20:

  • Hunters Under 14 Years Old: Individuals under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a responsible adult who is at least 21 years old. The accompanying adult must have the approval of the parent or guardian to supervise the young hunter.

  • Hunters Aged 14 to 16: Hunters who are at least 14 but under 16 years old are also required to be accompanied by an adult who is 21 years or older. This ensures that young hunters have guidance and supervision while engaging in hunting activities.

The Division of Wildlife Resources advocates for accompanying adults to be well-versed in hunter-education guidelines or to have completed a hunter-education course. This preparation helps ensure that young hunters are provided with a safe, educational, and ethical hunting experience.

Proximity and Communication in the Field

While hunting, it's mandatory for the youth and the accompanying adult to remain near each other. The adult must be able to see and communicate verbally with the young hunter at all times. Reliance on electronic communication devices, such as walkie-talkies or cell phones, is not sufficient to meet this requirement. This rule ensures that the adult can offer immediate assistance and guidance, maintaining safety and adherence to hunting regulations.

Hunter Education Requirements in Utah

Mandatory Hunter Education Certification

Utah mandates that individuals born after December 31, 1965, must complete an approved hunter education course before applying for or obtaining a hunting license, as per Utah Code § 23-19-11 and Utah Admin. Rule R657-23. This requirement ensures that all hunters possess the necessary knowledge and skills for safe and responsible hunting, aligning with the state's commitment to conservation and ethical hunting practices.

Trial Hunting Program Exception

An exception to the hunter education requirement is made for those participating in the Division's Trial Hunting Program. This program allows individuals to experience hunting under certain conditions without the prerequisite of completing a hunter education course. For more details about eligibility and program specifics, interested individuals can refer to page 9 of the hunting guide or visit the official website.

Proof of Completion: Blue Card

Upon completing the hunter education course, individuals receive a hunter education card, commonly referred to as a "blue card" in Utah. Alternatively, a verified hunter education number, assigned upon course completion and blue card issuance, can also serve as proof. This documentation is crucial for applying for or obtaining permits and licenses.

Enrolling in Hunter Education

Prospective hunters can begin their hunter education by visiting the official Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website, which provides links to both traditional and online courses. Registration certificates are required for course enrollment, and upon completion, the Division verifies the achievement in their system. While the immediate completion allows for permit applications and participation in hunts, the physical blue card is mailed within four to six weeks post-course.

Considerations for Hunter Education

  • Youth Hunting: Hunters under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult while hunting, ensuring safety and compliance with regulations.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Regardless of education completion, all hunters must adhere to hunting regulations, including season dates and bag limits.
  • Out-of-State Hunting: Hunters planning to hunt outside of Utah should allow sufficient time for their blue card to arrive, as this may be a requirement in other jurisdictions.

New Utah Residents with Prior Certification

Individuals who move to Utah and have completed a hunter education course in another state, province, or country can obtain a Utah blue card by presenting their out-of-state certification to any Division office. This process ensures that all resident hunters meet Utah's safety and education standards.

Cougar Hunting for Residents and Nonresidents in Utah

Year-Round Cougar Hunting for All

In Utah, both residents and nonresidents are allowed to hunt cougars year-round, provided they possess a valid Utah hunting or combination license. This inclusive approach allows for broader participation in cougar hunting, attracting hunters from within and outside of the state while ensuring that all individuals are registered and comply with state hunting regulations.

Licensing Requirements

The key requirement for both groups is the possession of a valid hunting or combination license. These licenses ensure that hunters are knowledgeable of and agree to adhere to Utah's hunting laws and regulations, contributing to the state's wildlife management and conservation efforts. Hunters must maintain their licenses to continue enjoying the privileges of hunting cougars throughout the year.

Voluntary Cougar Orientation Course

Importance of Pre-Hunt Preparation

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources highly recommends that individuals planning to hunt cougars complete the online cougar orientation course. Though entirely voluntary, this course is a valuable resource for hunters, whether they are novices or experienced.

Course Benefits and Content

The cougar orientation course offers comprehensive insights into:

  • Cougar Identification: Learn to accurately identify cougars in the wild, an essential skill for ensuring the correct target species during a hunt.
  • Target Selection: Understand the importance of selecting the appropriate cougar to harvest, considering factors like age, gender, and conservation status.
  • Successful Hunting Tips: Gain practical advice and strategies to increase the likelihood of a successful and ethical hunt.

Accessing the Course

The orientation course is accessible online at the official Utah Division of Wildlife Resources website. Hunters can conveniently access and complete the course from anywhere, preparing themselves for a more informed and responsible hunting experience.

Cougar Hunting Permits and Permissions in Utah

No Additional Permit Required for Cougar Hunting

Under Utah Administrative Rule R657-10-3, as of May 3, 2023, individuals are allowed to hunt or pursue cougars using any legal weapon without needing an additional permit, as long as they possess a valid Utah hunting or combination license. This change simplifies the process for hunters and ensures that those with a valid license are ready to participate in cougar hunting activities.

Trapping Requirements

However, if an individual chooses to take a cougar by trapping, a valid Utah trap registration license is required in addition to the hunting or combination license. This additional license ensures that trappers are knowledgeable about and comply with the specific regulations and ethical standards related to trapping wildlife. Detailed information and guidelines are available in the revised Utah Furbearer Guidebook.

Hunting on Private Property

When planning to hunt on private land, hunters are strongly encouraged to obtain written permission from the landowner beforehand. Securing permission ensures legal access to the property and avoids potential disputes or trespassing issues. It is recommended to secure this permission before applying for or purchasing a hunting license to ensure that the license can be effectively utilized.

Guidelines for Guides and Outfitters

For guides and outfitters who charge customers more than $100 for cougar hunting or pursuit trips, there is no requirement to purchase a hunting or combination license to guide a customer in the field. This provision recognizes the professional role of guides and outfitters in facilitating hunting trips, while still ensuring that the overall hunting activities are regulated and safe.

Changes to Cougar Bonus Points in Utah

Transition from Limited Entry Permits

Before the 2023 legislative changes, hunters could apply for limited-entry cougar permits, utilizing the bonus point system to improve their chances of securing these coveted permits. The bonus point system was designed to reward consistent applicants over time, increasing their odds of drawing limited entry permits for each unsuccessful year they applied.

Legislative Changes and Current Status

However, as of May 3, 2023, cougar hunting permits have moved out of the limited entry draw system due to legislative changes. Consequently, the bonus points system for Cougars is no longer active in the sense of accruing points for future draws.

Status of Accumulated Bonus Points

For hunters who have accumulated cougar bonus points, these points will not expire or be revoked. They will remain on record with the Division of Wildlife Resources. It's important to note that there will be no refunds provided for points that were earned or purchased before the 2023 changes. For the 2023-2024 cougar hunting season, no bonus points were earned or applied due to the legislative adjustments.

Non-Transferability of Points

According to the rules, hunters are not allowed to transfer accumulated bonus points from one species to another. Therefore, any cougar bonus points that hunters have will stay in their profile history as a record of their past applications but will not apply or be transferable to future cougar hunts or other species' hunts.

Hunting Accommodations for Individuals with Disabilities in Utah

Commitment to Accessible Hunting

Utah acknowledges the importance of ensuring that hunting is accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities. The state provides special accommodations to support hunters with disabilities, enabling them to participate in hunting activities safely and effectively.

Types of Accommodations

Some of the special accommodations available include:

  • Hunting with a Companion: Individuals with disabilities may be allowed to hunt alongside a companion who can assist them throughout the hunt.
  • Hunting from a Vehicle: For those with mobility restrictions, there is the option to hunt from a vehicle, allowing easier access to hunting grounds and a comfortable setting to hunt from.
  • Other Customized Accommodations: Based on individual needs, additional accommodations may be available to ensure a safe and enjoyable hunting experience.

Guidelines on Harvesting Collared Cougars in Utah

Importance of GPS Collared Cougars

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has equipped several cougars with GPS tracking collars as part of ongoing wildlife studies. These collared cougars provide vital data for research on cougar movements, behaviors, and ecology. Given the significant resources involved in capturing, collaring, and monitoring these animals, hunters are urged to avoid harvesting collared cougars whenever possible.

No-Harvest Restrictions in Active Research Areas

A specific no-harvest restriction is in place year-round for collared cougars located in active research study areas. This restriction is crucial to maintain the integrity and continuity of the research. For 2023, this restriction includes the prohibition of using dogs to hunt collared cougars in several specified units such as:

  • Central Mtns, Nebo (excluding West Face)
  • Central Mtns, Nebo-West Face
  • Oquirrh-Stansbury, East
  • Wasatch Mtns, Cascade
  • Wasatch Mtns, West-Strawberry
  • Wasatch Mtns, Timpanogos

Hunters are responsible for being aware of and complying with these restrictions to support the ongoing research and conservation efforts.

Exceptions and Procedures for Harvesting Collared Cougars

While the general guidance is to avoid harvesting collared cougars, there are exceptions in cases where a collared cougar is preying on livestock. In such scenarios, specific protocols may allow for the removal of the animal to protect livestock and property.

If a hunter inadvertently harvests a collared cougar or in the case of an exception, they are instructed to carefully remove the collar without cutting it and promptly contact their local Division office. The office will provide further instructions on handling the collar and any additional steps necessary. This procedure helps ensure the valuable equipment is returned and can be reused for ongoing or future research.

Replacing Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed Hunting Licenses in Utah

Duplication of Licenses

Utah recognizes that hunting licenses can be lost, stolen, or destroyed. To accommodate such situations, hunters can obtain a duplicate of their unexpired license. This process ensures that hunters can continue their activities without interruption and remain compliant with state regulations.

Obtaining a Duplicate License

To replace a license, individuals should visit a Division of Wildlife Resources office or a licensed agent. The fee for a duplicate license is $10 or half of the original license's price, whichever is less. This cost-effective measure helps ease the burden of replacing important documents.

Fee Waiver Conditions

Under certain conditions, the Division may waive the duplication fee. Specifically, if an individual never received the original document, they might be eligible for a fee waiver for their duplicate license. This consideration ensures fairness and addresses situations where the hunter is not at fault for the absence of the original license.

Digital License Options

For convenience and to reduce the likelihood of needing a duplicate, Utah hunters are encouraged to use the Utah Hunting and Fishing app. This app allows hunters to legally carry digital versions of their hunting or combination licenses on their phone or tablet. The app can store licenses for all family members, providing a secure and convenient way to manage hunting documents. To download and start using the app, visit wildlife.utah.gov/mobileapp.

Discounted Hunting Licenses for Disabled Veterans in Utah

Recognition and Support for Disabled Veterans

Utah offers discounted hunting and combination licenses as a gesture of gratitude and support for veterans disabled in the line of duty. This initiative acknowledges the sacrifices made by service members and aims to facilitate their continued enjoyment of outdoor activities like hunting and fishing.

License Costs and Validity

  • Discounted Hunting License: Available at $25.50, a reduction from the standard $34 price.
  • Discounted Combination License: Available at $28.50, down from the usual $38 price.

Each license is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase, offering a full year of hunting or fishing opportunities.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for these discounted licenses, applicants must meet the following conditions:

  • Residency: Must be a Utah resident.
  • Disability: Must have a qualifying service-connected disability with a rating of at least 20 percent.

Application Process

Veterans interested in obtaining a discounted license can apply in two ways:

  1. Online: Visit wildlife.utah.gov/disabledvet and complete the online form. This convenient option allows veterans to apply from anywhere at any time.
  2. In-Person: Visit any Division office with the verification of service-connected disability documentation issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Managing Cougar Livestock Depredation in Utah

Options for Livestock Owners

When a cougar is involved in harassing, chasing, disturbing, harming, attacking, or killing livestock, or has done so within the past 96 hours, livestock owners have several options for action:

  • Direct Action by Owner or Employees: The livestock owner, their immediate family members, or regular employees (not hired specifically for cougar control) may kill the cougar directly in response to depredation.
  • Notification to Division: Livestock owners can notify the Division of Wildlife Resources about the depredation or any related human health and safety concerns. The Division may authorize local hunters to take the offending cougar or coordinate with USDA-Wildlife Services specialists for action.
  • Contacting USDA-Wildlife Services: Owners may directly notify a USDA-Wildlife Services specialist, who is then authorized to take action against the depredating cougar.

Guidelines for Taking Depredating Cougars

  • Specialist Intervention: A USDA-Wildlife Services specialist can take a depredating cougar at any time, provided they are supervised by the USDA-Wildlife Services program and follow procedures approved by the Division.
  • Authorized Weapons: Any weapon authorized for taking cougar can be used to take a depredating cougar, including firearms and archery equipment. If using snares or traps, rules in the current Utah Furbearer Guidebook must be followed.
  • Reporting: After taking a cougar under depredation circumstances, the carcass must be reported to a Division office or employee within 96 hours of the take.

Permits for Chronic Depredation

In cases of chronic depredation, where livestock are repeatedly at risk or harmed, landowners may be eligible for specific permits. These permits allow for additional or ongoing measures to manage cougar threats. Livestock owners experiencing these persistent problems should contact their regional Division office for further assistance and information on obtaining such permits.

Trespassing Laws and Wildlife-Related Activities in Utah

Restrictions on Entering Private Land

When engaging in wildlife-related activities, such as hunting or wildlife watching, individuals must respect private property rights:

  • Cultivated Land: Without permission, you cannot enter or remain on cultivated land, which includes areas used for crops or artificially irrigated pastures.
  • Properly Posted Land: You must not enter lands that are properly posted with signs or marked with bright yellow, orange, or fluorescent paint indicating no trespassing.
  • Fenced or Enclosed Areas: Any land fenced or enclosed to exclude intruders is off-limits without explicit permission.

Additional Prohibited Actions

Beyond unauthorized entry, individuals must also avoid the following:

  • Ignoring Owner's Directions: You must not enter or remain on private land if the owner or their representative has instructed you not to.
  • Obstructing Access: Do not obstruct any entrance or exit to private property.

Permission Requirements

For legal access to cultivated or properly posted land, written permission is required:

  • Content of Permission: Written authorization must include the owner's or representative's signature, the name of the person given permission, relevant dates, and a description of the land.
  • Display of Posted Signs: Signs or bright markings should be displayed at all corners, on fishing streams crossing property lines, roads, gates, and rights-of-way entering the land.

Regulations on Posting and Wildlife Taking

  • Unlawful Posting: Individuals cannot post land as private if they do not own or legally control it or if the land is open to the public.
  • Taking Wildlife While Trespassing: It is illegal to take protected wildlife or its parts while trespassing, with penalties for such violations.

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Disclaimer:

The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.