Permits to hunt cougars on harvest objective units in Utah will be available from Division of Wildlife Resources offices only beginning Nov. 26.
There are 31 harvest objective units in Utah. When buying their permit, Utah residents can choose two units to hunt. Nonresidents can choose three units.
"There are three main ways in which harvest objective units differ from traditional limited entry units," stated Suzette Fowlks, information specialist for the DWR.
"There is no limit to the number of permits that may be sold for each unit and hunters may purchase them over-the-counter," she explained. "The hunt on each harvest objective unit may close before the official end of the season, however, if the number of cougars to be taken on the unit is met."
For example, if the objective is to take 10 cougars on a unit, the hunt on the unit closes when 10 cougars are taken, even if the end of the season hasn't been reached.
During the season, hunters may exchange their harvest objective permit for a permit to hunt a different unit. A handling fee is charged for each exchange and the permit is not valid until the day after the exchange is made. All exchanges must be made at a DWR office.
The 2002-2003 cougar season begins Dec. 14 on most of Utah's harvest objective units.
"Hunters should study the 2002 Utah cougar proclamation to choose their harvest objective units," Fowlks advised.
Proclamations are available from hunting and fishing license agents statewide, DWR offices and the DWR's Internet website at www.wildlife.utah.gov.
Following the lead of other western states, Utah established harvest objective units in 1996 as one way to help speed the recovery of Utah's deer herds. Through the sale of an unlimited number of permits, the units help speed Utah's deer herd recovery by increasing chances that a set number of cougars can be taken on units where deer herds are facing their toughest challenge.
Before each hunting trip, hunters must call 1-888-668- 5466 to verify their harvest objective unit is still open to hunting. The phone line is updated by 8 p.m. daily, providing hunters with closure information for the next day's hunt.
For more information call the nearest DWR office.