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Trapping/hunting rules approved

Animals that trappers aren't trying to trap will have an easier time escaping from snares in Utah.

And the number of cougars that hunters take in Utah this season should be similar to the number taken during the past three seasons.

Both of these items are an outcome of decisions made by the Utah Wildlife Board at the board's Aug. 8 meeting in Salt Lake City.

Starting with Utah's 2007 - 2008 season, trappers in Utah must use breakaway snares. These snares allow bigger animals to escape if they're accidentally trapped.

"Larger animals should be able to escape from these snares," says Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "These animals include deer, elk, cougars and black bears. When one of these animals puts enough pressure on the snare by pulling on it, the snare releases and lets the animal free."

Bunnell says it's rare for larger animals to get caught in these traps.

"But when they do get caught in them, they should be able to escape," he says.

The only exception to the breakaway snare rule are traps set in water, or traps that have a loop size that's less than three inches in diameter.

"These traps aren't big enough to trap larger animals," Bunnell said.

Bunnell says the cooperation the DWR received from the Utah Trappers Association is one of the main reasons the board approved the change.

"The Utah Trappers Association was very supportive of this change," he said.

Hunters will probably take about 300 cougars in Utah during the state's 2007-2008 season. That would be similar to the past three seasons in Utah, when an average of 311 cougars were taken each season.

"An effort was underway a few years ago to reduce the number of cougars in Utah," Bunnell said. "The goal was to bring them into better balance with the deer, bighorn sheep and other animals that cougars prey on. It appears those efforts have worked. Now we're trying to find the proper balance. We think the recommendations the board passed are another step to finding that balance."

Overall, the board reduced the number of hunting permits for Utah's limited entry units, and the total number of cougars to be taken on the state's harvest objective units, by about seven percent for the upcoming season.

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