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Comments due > increase cougar harvest limits – western Wyoming

August 4, 2023 @ 4:50 am - 5:00 pm

Changes to Wyoming’s cougar hunting  are proposed:
      Wyoming is supposed to change its’ mountain lion hunting seasons every 3 years, which it last did in 2022, however 1 year later it is proposing changes, which are off cycle.
       Wyoming is now proposing a significant increase in hunting, in four hunting units on the western edge Wyoming — with the goal of increasing the mountain lion harvest limit by 50%  . (Units 29, 26, 17 and 14). High mule deer fatalities over winter is the reason they are proposing this, believing reducing predators helps prey populations grow.  Wyoming normally only changes season rules every three years (last time 2022).
    The legislature this year passed a law requiring the Department to create a mountain lion pursuit season (dogs pursue lions without the hunter killing the lions). See SF0178 – “Mountain Lion Pursuit seasons”  – link to bill: https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2023/SF0178,
        Thus they also propose to allow hound hunting pursuit of lions by residents, without permission to kill treed lion, for purpose of dog training.  This would occur after the harvest limit is reached but before the season’s chronological end point. Some units allow hunting year round – thus those units never reach a harvest limit. Due to high/overly ambitious harvest limits set, many hunting units never reach their harvest limit. – in 2023 only 8 of 32
(25%) met their harvest limit before the chronological end point. 3 units had unlimited harvest, with year long seasons.
       The Black Hills will not be affected by the rule change on increased harvest, except that dispersers to the Hills might be reduced.   The Big Horn Mts already have an unlimited harvest.  But the Black Hills will be affected by the pursuit without killing.  To learn about this issue from Wyoming Game & Fish visit:
To view Statement of Reasons:
To view rule change proposal:
Commission hearing is in Gillette in September 12-13th. We are not sure of exact start & end time-of-day of the Commission meeting or its’ location in Gillette.  You can testify remotely by Zoom, if you request such 4 or 5 days in advance. The form for requesting such will be found in the agenda once it is published- check out this link as it gets closer to 9/12/23:. https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Get-Involved/Public-Meetings
Other public meetings were held in June & July, in Wyoming, by the Department, on the rule changes proposed by WG&F Depart.  …the closest to Black Hills was likely in Sheridan or Casper – https://wgfd.wyo.gov/WGFD/media/content/PDF/Get%20Involved/2023%20September%20Regulations/Public-Meeting-Dates-Sept-2023-Regs.pdf
For most details on this proposal and how to comment visit https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Get-Involved/Public-Meetings and look for  section on > Chapter 42, Mountain Lion Hunting Seasons.
     Comments are due August 4, 5 pm MT.  You can comment on line, with a limit of 8,000 words. You can send in more than one comment letter if you run out of space.  https://wgfd.wyo.gov/Get-Involved/Public-Meetings
You can send written comments by mail but they must arrive by 5 pm on Friday 8/4/23 .
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Wildlife Division
ATTN: Regulations
3030 Energy Lane
Casper WY 82604
–For questions > WGF phone # in Cheyenne -(307) 777-4600 or Casper – 307-473-3400 (maybe ext 1?) –  Arron Kerr 307-233-6413 (aaron.kerr@wyo.gov) at Casper office is in charge of commenting. Casper Fax 307-473-3433,
 It has been reported to us that sometimes, temporarily, the on-line comment portal does not work and when asked about that, the Department response was –  it was probably overloaded at that moment.  A lady in Casper suggested if on-line portal should not be working, to send comments postmarked 8/4/23, with a note that the on-line portal was not working or use the Fax. 
Simple Talking points
Just object to the 50% increase to the 4 units (Units 29, 26, 17 and 14) and object to them allowing chasing of lions for purpose of training dogs.
More Complex Talking points
We suggest folks object to both proposals. Here are many points you could select from.
We may add more talking points before Sept 12th.
 However these objections might be a start:
Objecting to hound hunting:
~ Lion pursuit with hounds is cruelty to lions and dogs
~ Lion pursuit with hounds will result in more trespassing
~ Lion pursuit with hounds will create disturbance to people, livestock and wildlife (including mule deer). Disturbance of wildlife can stress them.
~Lion pursuit with hounds will stress lions and especially in heavy snow or extreme heat, especially for mothers with young.
~ Disturbance from snow mobiles and OHV noise should be factored in as cumulative disturbance.
Assuming they allow pursuit hunting – you can suggest additional regulations:
~ Participating hunters must have GPS/stimulation collars (e-collars) used on hounds.
~ Pursuit hunters should be required to report the number of pursuit hunts they engaged in and the locations of such within 72 hours.
~ The  proposed rule only has them reporting lions who received possible mortal injuries.  Instead – require hound hunters to report any fights between dogs and cats and whether a dog or cat was wounded and if a cat was wounded where did it happen. The reports on fights between lions/dogs should be public information.
~ It should require hunters to report any kitten, lactating mother or group of lions traveling together that were treed or chased and at what location.
~ In the summer, with no snow on the ground, hunters may not be able to find tracks to identify family groups of lions, which they are not supposed to chase.  Cougars are more likely to give birth in the summer with August being the most with most births.  Outdoor human recreators are more likely to be out on public lands in then summer.  Therefor there should be a time limit that excludes chase during then summer months.
~ The rule should prohibit lion pursuit by hounds in areas with too deep snow, when it is too hot or on prairie where there are no trees or tall rock outcroppings for lions to climb.
~ The rule should stop pursuit several hours before sunset especially in winter cold or summer heat, so as to allow disturbed wildlife to find and return to shelter. Not all wildlife are nocturnal.
~ When on public land, GF should require consent of public land manager and some areas or times of the year on public lands should be off limits – for example public land areas set aside could be those with high human recreational use or for wildlife protection emphasis where key wildlife would be disturbed by hounds.  Thus the rules should require hunters to consult with public land managers to see if chasing is approved across all of the public land and at all times.
~ Pursuit by hounds  should not be allowed in Areas 29, 26, 17 and 14, as the hounds disturbs and stresses mule deer, which population the Department wants to recover.
~ The rule should prohibit people who don’t train hounds from being part of the pursuit.
This should not be public entertainment and less people is less disturbance.
Increased harvest limits – Units 29, 26, 17 and 14
      ~ On protecting mule deer in Units 29, 26, 17 and 14 –  Older male lions chase away the younger males. Killing by humans of large and older males may result in more “teenage” younger males replacing them.  Older males may hunt more elk and less mule deer while younger ones may avoid elk & take more deer. Wyoming has enough elk, which are feed over winter by the State.
       There are scientific papers that contest the theory that killing mountain lions helps their prey populations (such as mule deer) increase.
      ~ There needs to be a termination date for the 50% increase in the harvest limit.  How long does the Department feel reduction of lions is  needed to recover mule deer and when will more data be available?
Failures to act –
Failure to propose alternative changes to the rules
~Failure of rule change proposal to reduce the – way too high harvest limits-  in the Black Hills, specifically Units 1, 32 and 30.  Unit 1 (Black Hills National Forest) met its’ harvest limit on 11/20/22. Unit 32 (on edges of west the Bear Lodge ) had only 16 kills out of 24 kills allowed and Unit 30 (west of Elk Mountain), only had 1 kill out of 12 kills allowed.
~Failure of rule change proposal to create a harvest limit in Unit 24 (Prairie to west of the Black Hills) which currently has an unlimited harvest limit. This area has some uplifted hills near the Montana border where hunters once killed an 8 year old female. Also Unit 15  (Big Horns) and 27  (near Casper) have yearlong, unlimited harvest. For some unknown reason the Dept. closed Unit 24  on 6/1/23, contrary to its’ year long season.
~Failure of rule change proposal to add a harvest limit to Unit 15  (Southern Bighorns & southern area) – which has a yearlong season with an unlimited harvest limit and has had excessive amount of lions killed here in recent years.
~Many hunting units have harvest limits that are never met –  16 of 32 hunting units did not have their harvest limits met when they closed in April due date limit. This indicates that Wyoming, Game and Fish may have set unrealistic harvest limits – some of these areas need the harvest limits reduced. 7 units were still open on June 1st. 3 areas have unlimited harvest year round, but for some reason Unit 24 was closed in June 2023.
~ Only 8 of 32 units, that had harvest limits, had their area close due to meeting harvest limit before the date limit passed.  Thus in 2022 a quarter of the units could have allowed pursuit lion chasing under the proposed rule.  Pursuit hunting will disturb wildlife including ungulates. If these areas have objectives of killing predators to maximize prey population, pursuit hunting should not be allowed.
For more reference:

1 September, 2019 – 31 March, 2022 – link to this  document >


See map of  Wyoming’s wolf hunting regions:


Our alert on Wyoming’s 2022 setting of their season for next three years
PHAS’s alert page on Mountain Lions in the region
Mountain Lion Foundation on Wyoming lions:


August 4, 2023
4:50 am - 5:00 pm