Conservation group challenging mountain lion hunting law, argue animals could go extinct
Oct 22, 2023, 5:02 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — Wildlife conservation groups are hoping to overturn a new state law that allows year-round mountain lion hunting and trapping, raising concerns about the potential extinction of Utah’s mountain lions.
Local group Western Wildlife Conservancy and Mountain Lion Foundation, based out of California, filed a lawsuit in the Third Judicial District Court arguing that House Bill 469 is unconstitutional.
The law went into effect this May.
Mountain lion hunting in Utah
“This was a huge change for Utah in the way that mountain lions are treated across the state and we immediately went into action trying to figure out what we could do to get this law overturned,” said R. Brent Lyles, executive director of the Mountain Lion Foundation.
The lawsuit states the law restricts the state’s wildlife management agencies’ ability to regulate the killing of cougars.
“The concern here is that this law opens the door for every mountain lion in the state to be killed and not just killed but killed in a ruthless manner,” Lyles said.
The defendants in the lawsuit say that’s not the case. In a joint statement, the Department of Natural Resources and the Division of Wildlife Resources said in part:
They declined to comment any further due to ongoing litigation. Despite that, Lyles feels confident about their case.
“When we allow not just hunting year-round and unlimited numbers, but trapping year round and unlimited numbers, it raises the risk to mountain lions exponentially,” Lyles said. “I think we’ve got a pretty good chance of getting this law returned.”
To read more about the lawsuit, a pdf version of the case can be viewed here.