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Low Deer Population Means Cougars Preying On Livestock

Increased Cougar sightings in Utah; House BIll 228
House Rep. Casey Snider said when "deer populations crash and you have predator populations at a high, which means those animals are going to be looking for additional sources of food, which is led to increase predation in livestock industries."

In December, a pair of mountain lions was caught on a doorbell camera in Bountiful. While viral videos and urban sightings can be rare and exciting, House Representative Casey Snider, from District 5, said it can be a regular occurrence in rural parts of the state — like down the road from his house in southern Cache County.

“I've had producers in my country that have had steers and calves preyed on which has never happened before," Snider said. "And it's just because lion populations are high and deer populations are low and they're looking for alternatives.”

Snider says in the past six months, there have been 15 mountain lions in his neighborhood, alone. One way he’s working to address the rise is through H.B. 228 — amendments to a law on how farmers and ranchers handle predation in livestock industries.

“My push is well let's figure out a way to work in the world as it is now," he said. "What is the best case scenario for local communities? What is the best case scenario for our public lands themselves? How do we bridge that?”

Snider’s bill, that clarifies options and extends the time window for livestock producers to make depredation case from 72 to 96 hours, passed in the House on Feb. 14 and received a favorable recommendation from the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment committee on Monday.

Now that it has passed committee, the bill will head to the Senate floor.