Cougar Hunting Permits

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Permits to hunt cougars on harvest objective units in Utah will be available from Division of Wildlife Resources offices only beginning Nov. 16.

There are 40 harvest objective units in Utah. When buying their permit, hunters may choose up to three units to hunt.

"There are three main ways harvest objective units differ from traditional limited entry units," says Suzette Fowlks, information specialist with the DWR.

"There is no limit to the number of permits that may be sold for each unit, and hunters may purchase them over the counter," she said. "The hunt on each harvest objective unit may close before the official end of the season, however, if the number of cougars to be taken on the unit is met."

For example, if the objective is to take 10 cougars on a unit, the hunt on the unit closes when 10 cougars are taken, even if the end of the season hasn't been reached.

During the season, hunters may exchange their harvest objective permit for a permit to hunt a different unit. A $5 handling fee is charged for each exchange, and the permit is not valid until the day after the exchange is made. All exchanges must be made at a DWR office.

The 2004 - 2005 cougar season begins Dec. 11 on most of Utah's harvest objective units. "Hunters should study the 2004 - 2005 Utah Cougar Proclamation to choose their harvest objective units," Fowlks said. "Unit descriptions begin on page 13."

Proclamations are available from hunting and fishing license agents statewide, DWR offices and online.

Hunters are reminded that harvest objective permits purchased after the season has started are not valid until seven days after the date of purchase. Hunters are also reminded that they may not purchase a harvest objective permit if they've already obtained a limited entry cougar permit for this season.

Following the lead of other Western states, Utah established harvest objective units in 1996 to help speed the recovery of deer herds in regions where predation is one of the factors limiting deer population growth. By selling an unlimited number of permits and setting a large desired harvest, cougar hunting pressure can be increased on selected units, reducing cougar numbers and their predation on deer.

Before each hunting trip hunters must call toll-free, 1-888-668-LION (5466) to verify their harvest objective unit is still open to hunting. The phone line is updated by 8 p.m. daily, providing hunters with closure information for the next day's hunt.

For more information, call the nearest Division of Wildlife Resources office or the DWR's Salt Lake City office at (801) 538-4700.