Cougars in Utah
Utah has long been a state immersed in its desire to be unique, politically and culturally. The resulting utilitarian doctrines have not had good consequences for predators. Stepping back a couple of centuries, Utah re-introduced the coyote bounty; wolves are targeted for removal even before they have returned, and mountain lions are the unseen scapegoat for livestock conflict and struggling ungulate populations.
Even when science supports the compensatory mechanism of predator prey relationships, Utah still pursues the ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach to carnivore management.
It is nice to know that there are scientific references in Utah that allude to the tough lives that cougars must endure, their elusiveness and extremely infrequent interactions with humans. Utah is also trying to include non-consumptive interests by inviting advocates on to their Cougar Advisory Board. In a state that has one of the most regressive attitudes towards large carnivores, this article and the inclusion of those who don’t regard mountain lions as ‘criminal’ animals are hopeful signs.