(KCPW News) On Tuesday, a Utah legislative committee voted to pass a bill that would give the Division of Wildlife Resources discretion to cull predatory animals negatively affecting Big Game populations.
The House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee voted 10-to-2 to pass House Bill 125. The bill would allow the Director of DWR to immediately reduce bear, cougar or coyote populations if the director thought predators were stunting the growth of big game populations.
Rep. Carl Arlbrecht, R-Richfield, sponsored the bill, saying hunting is a part of Utah’s legacy, and helps bolster the state’s economy, especially in rural communities.
“(Hunting) contributes many dollars to rural economies,” Albrecht said. “When you consider hunters buy motel rooms and eat in restaurants and buy groceries at the local grocery stores.”
However, Associate Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Utah State University Dan McNolte said during public comment that removing predators will probably not increase Big Game populations.
“If I were to just go by what’s documented in the record, I would say the chances are low that you’ll come up with a measurable increase in trend by removing lions and coyotes, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” he said.
McNolte said in order to increase populations, DWR should focus on improving habitats by increasing migratory range or removing toxic invasive plants.
The bill is now heading to the House floor where it will be voted on by the entire body.
Producer Tim Pierce reported this story.
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