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UT lawmaker proposes bill that would target predator populations to help game

Utah lawmaker proposes bill that would target predator populations to help big game

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To help big game populations rebound, a new Utah bill has been proposed that would allow for the immediate removal of predators from targeted areas. House Bill 125 (HB 125), which is sponsored by Rep. Carl Albrecht (R-Richfield), was sent to the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Committee last week; however, Albrecht says it could be met with opposition once it hits the House floor, The Park Record reports. 

The premise of the bill comes from too many predators and decreased deer and elk herds within the state. Albrecht says that his constituents didn’t see any deer in any of the usual spots during last year’s deer hunting season. 

“I got more calls than you can imagine that there are no deer,” said Albrecht. “Believe it or not, I got more calls on that than I did on the tax reform. It’s a big deal in rural Utah.”

While the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources already has predator management plans in place that “generally allow for more predators to be removed when prey populations do not meet the objective size set” by the agency, Albrecht’s bill would immediately force action against mountain lions, bears, coyotes and bobcats to protect mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goats, antelope and bison

“The director (of the DWR) shall take immediate action to reduce the number of predators within a management unit when the big game population is under the established herd size objective for that management unit,” the bill states.

However, according to The Park Record, some environmental groups are against HB 125, saying that it could eliminate predator groups “without scientific proof that it would help the big game animals.”

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“I’m not anti-hunting. I am anti reckless, poorly conceived management plans that don’t really take into account all the information that should be taken into account,” said local resident John Ziegler. “At what point do we hit the tipping point for predator species?” 

Ziegler points to important considerations that the bill doesn’t address like “climate change, disease or hard winters,” adding that “if a herd is struggling because of drought, killing more predators is likely not the answer to increasing herd health.”

Other opponents like Kirk Robinson, executive director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy, don’t believe the bill is ethical.

“Deer and elk and cougars and black bears are equally important. They are all significant,” said Robinson. “Is it really ethical to kill lots of predator species just to have more deer for hunters to shoot?”

HB125 specifically includes language that would increase “hunting tags for predators until the herd size objective is met,” issue “over-the-counter permits for hunting predator species,” or employ “professional trapping services, including from helicopters,” according to The Park Record. Further, UDWR “would be compelled to employ predator management strategies unless it ‘proves that predators are not contributing to the big game population being under the herd size objective.’” Albrecht believes that this language would force UDWR “to take action” should it be approved. 

The UDWR’s legislation liaison did not comment on whether the agency supports the bill.

Stay tuned to goHUNT for further information.


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Michael G. - posted 3 months ago on 02-06-2020 10:57:28 am

I support the hunting of lions and I live in California. We are used to being blamed for everything so no hard feelings. An adult lion eats a deer-size meal on average once a week. A lactating female requires a bit more. As the predator population increases this puts pressure on other species such as the endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn as well. But specific to our decreasing Mule Deer populations, housing developments on winter range habitat, unusually heavy winters and episodes of draught and highways bisecting historic migration routes without wildlife over/under passes impacts the deer far more seriously. In other words improving habitat benefits deer more than removing predators. This said, I am not opposed to opening mountain lions to hunting.

Marc M. - posted 3 months ago on 02-05-2020 09:25:31 am

“Is it really ethical to kill lots of predator species just to have more deer for hunters to shoot?”

Yes it is! Hunter dollars do more for conservation of these animals than any of the radical anti-hunting/anti-gun groups. Face it, if there are no prey animals there will be no predators either. HB 125 is a great bill. I wish Montana would take Utah's lead. Our state is nothing more than a predator pit. The mule deer in MT have been decimated by mountain lions over the last 30 years and the wolves, lions and excessive amount of grizzlies have all but ruined elk hunting in Southwest MT. I attended a big game tentative proposal meeting last month. FWP personnel would like everyone to believe that reduced numbers of elk and deer in Western MT is attributed to river otters and muskrats. They will never just come out and say it. Wolves, grizzlies, lions and their poor management are the reason the numbers are not what they should be historically speaking. What is wrong with having a lot of deer and elk for hunters to hunt?

Michael N. - posted 3 months ago on 02-04-2020 10:48:39 am

I am a utah resident.

Michael N. - posted 3 months ago on 02-04-2020 10:47:34 am

I have hunted the same area for my entire life and have ran trail cameras for almost 15 years used to only get pictures of bears and cougars at night after the elk/deer hunt started in a hand full of places. In the last 4-5 years I get bears on every camera alot of cubs and in the last 3 years I have seem them in day light hours mid elk/deer hunting season, half the time from the road so I believe the predator problem is getting out of control.

Gary H. - posted 3 months ago on 02-04-2020 04:51:24 am

And, meanwhile, back in Colorado, wolves are on the ballot. lol

I have never seen such a shit show in all my life across the west. With the California flower-children potsmokers influence creeping into all of these stats year by year its only a matter of time before hunting isn't the norm.

scott s. - posted 3 months ago on 02-03-2020 02:32:23 pm

Ask the biologists in California of the impact the "protected" lions have had on populations of deer, bighorn sheep, and elk. No hunting of this predator since the 1970s (dictated by ignorant lawmakers based on emotions rather than sound management practices) has destroyed herds to the point where lions now roam neighborhoods looking for dogs and cats. Gov. Newsome has now outlawed hunting of bobcats to further the agenda of lunatics and provide another obstacle for game herds to contend with.
All species need to be protected by those employed to manage rather than agenda driven lawmakers. Unfortunately California appears to be without either.

Michael P. - posted 3 months ago on 02-03-2020 01:55:39 pm

I am a Nevada resident and have been building points for 16 years in Utah with the dream of one day very soon archery hunting Mule Deer and Elk in Utah.
I am also a Biologist, and I trust the Utah Division of Wildlife for their expertise.
Given that the State Wildlife divisions are tasked w managing wildlife within the State, I know they appreciate the considerable funding that comes from Hunters in and out of the state which helps pay for conservation of wildlife in that State. In addition it is well documented that they utilize scientific data, appropriate models, and input from hunters and users of the wild lands to make their recommendations.
It is clear that population estimates for ungulates are below objectives based on carrying capacity, winter range, fawn recruitment and scientific data and surveys by the Wildlife agency.
Unfortunately, some groups believe they know more than the trained Biologists and Wildlife Professionals whom are tasked with stewardship and these groups often block reasonable efforts at balancing species that share a common environment. It is clear they do not want more deer available "for hunters to shoot" despite some of them purporting to NOT be anti-hunting.
If you bring up the unethical practice of allowing Predators to over populate beyond the appropriate carrying capacity or objective and the negative effect on other species this fact will be readily dismissed by the fringe groups. Typically they respond w unreasonable law suits and misinformation in an effort to block well developed and reasonable management plans by the Wildlife Division.
I applaud HB-125 and efforts to bring back common sense answers and efforts at reeling in the "predators above all else" mentality and restoring a viable and ethical wildlife balanced plan.

Arron J. - posted 3 months ago on 02-03-2020 11:46:27 am

There are never enough predators for anti-hunting groups. Unmanaged predator populations as we have seen with introducing the Canadian wolf in the Yellowstone eco-system and militantly resisting management of grizzlies is the anti-hunting movement's blueprint for destroying western hunting.

According to these groups the predator populations are always at "a tipping point" in which the world's ecosystems are on the verge of collapse into an irreversible spiral if one more wolf, grizzly bear, cougar, coyote, or black bear are killed. The crafted language Ziegler and others use are anti-hunting tropes. Invoking "ethics" relative to managing predators uses the same logic used by extremist organizations like PETA. Coyotes, cougars, and black bears are more than thriving in Utah. I've spent extensive time in Utah's outdoors for over 35 years. There have never been more predators than right now. Utah big game hunters should 100% support this bill.