What is trophy hunting?
Trophy hunting is considered a ‘sport’ where people hunt wild animals for recreation. The dead animal, or a part of the animal, is usually displayed as a trophy to represent a successful hunt.
Unfortunately, it is currently legal to hunt mountain lions in the state of Utah from November 7th – May 31st every year. Hunters most often use several hound dogs to chase the terrified cat until it climbs into a tree for safety, where it is then shot and killed.
Utah is home to approximately 2,500 adult mountain lions. The Wildlife Board allows for 642 to be killed for the 2018-19 trophy hunting season, which studies show is not sustainable. Further, up to 40% of the lions harvested each year are permitted to be females. Since female lions are pregnant or caring for cubs 70% of their adult lives, the cubs are often left to die of starvation and exposure when their mothers are killed.
Grizzly Bears and Black Bears
Currently, grizzly bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act’s threatened list. However, some Western states are working to overturn those protections for the benefit of trophy hunters. This will be an ongoing battle between conservationists who want to protect the grizzly for all to enjoy, and the trophy hunters who want bragging rights or a bear rug for the floor.
Unfortunately, black bear hunting is legal in Utah, and 365 bears were killed during the 2017 season. The Utah Wildlife Board approved a permit increase for the 2018 season which was likely to result in about 400 bears being taken.
What is bear baiting? Bear baiting involves intensive feeding of bears to make them an easier target for trophy hunters waiting nearby. Typically, it occurs weeks in advance of hunting seasons to accustom bears to feeding in a particular area. Hunters stack donuts, candy, meat, fish and other foods in bait piles. Baiting occurs during the late summer and fall when bears attempt to gain 20-40 lbs per week and are in desperate search for extra calories to survive hibernation. This is legal in many states, and not only increases conflicts with humans, but is unsporting and inhumane.
Voices of Wildlife is working to put an end to trophy hunting through education, outreach and urging state wildlife agencies to amend their policies. The good news is, the majority of people in Utah do not support trophy hunting mountain lions or bears and want to see them protected. Public support and speaking out is the key to change. You can be a voice for wildlife by writing to your elected officials, joining our team of volunteers, or making a donation. Thank you for your support!