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(Salt Lake City-AP) -- In an effort to help Utah deer herds struggling with the drought, the Utah Wildlife Board has approved a 20 percent increase in the number of cougars hunters will take this year.
The change was recommended by state biologists and approved by the board yesterday. The state expects hunters will shoot between 475 and 500 cougars this season. That's up from the 418 mountain lions taken last year, but still below the record harvest.
The state biologists say taking more cougars in certain areas also is expected to help the survival of recently reintroduced bighorn sheep.
Some conservationist groups objected to more cougar hunting -- saying there's no proof it helps the populations of deer and sheep.
Hunters can pick up cougar hunt applications beginning September 30th.
In other action yesterday, the Utah Wildlife Board approved the state's duck and goose hunting season. The season starts October fourth and runs for 107 days, to January 17th. A 60-day hunting season for canvasback and pintail ducks was approved. That runs from October fourth to December second.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)