The Wyoming Game and Fish Department proposes to boost its mountain lion hunting quotas by approximately 50% in two western Wyoming mountain ranges where mule deer populations were decimated by winter. 

Draft regulations released by the state agency on Tuesday increase the maximum numbers of cats that can be killed in four Wyoming and Salt River range hunt areas from 46 to 70 animals total. The hike comes after numerous big game hunting outfitters and guides pressured Game and Fish officials to go after lions, bears and coyotes in the wake of an especially deadly winter for mule deer


The native large felines are managed in the Wyoming Range with the “overarching theme” of using hunting to “stabilize and/or reduce populations,” according to Dan Thompson, Game and Fish’s large carnivore supervisor. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has proposed 50% increases in mountain lion quotas in four hunt areas, pictured here. Specifically, unit 14 would go from a 20-cat quota to 30; unit 17, from 5 to 8; unit 26, from 15 to 23; and unit 29, from 6 to 9 cats. (Wyoming Game and Fish Department)

Mountain lion licenses are sold in unlimited quantities over the counter, but most hunt areas are capped and the open season ends when a designated number of lions are killed. The quotas for the coming season were already determined and finalized in July 2022. Ordinarily, the seasons are only updated once every three years.

Cat quotas increased slightly during the 2022 revision. Then came a winter that killed roughly two-thirds of all adult deer in the region. Now wildlife managers are proposing a more substantial increase. Although killing more lions may placate western Wyoming big game outfitters, some lion hunters are not pleased. 

Who said what 

“I’m going to hold my ground on the way I feel about it,” Jason Reinhardt, a Star Valley houndsman, told WyoFile. “It proves that they don’t pay attention to the science. And more than half of those units, the quotas don’t even fill anyway.” 

Research out of the now-defunct Teton Cougar Project has provided some evidence that intensively hunting mountain lions can actually hurt mule deer by creating a population of deer-killing specialists. The reason is that lion hunters tend to be choosy, selectively killing mature cats that prefer to prey on elk over deer. Younger, deer-eating specialists are left behind, biologists found. 

There’s also limited evidence that aerial coyote culling — another step Game and Fish is undertaking — alters the population trajectory of mule deer. 

Nevertheless, state officials are standing behind their decision to go after populations of species that prey on mule deer.

“I do believe that a potential exists to provide a more rapid rebound by targeting predator species,” Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Brian Nesvik told WyoFile in April. “It’s certainly not absolute, but the potential exists.” 

Next up 

The updated mountain lion regulations are not yet a done deal. They’re subject to public comments, which are being accepted through August 4. Wyoming Game and Fish is also hosting a series of meetings about the revised seasons for lion hunt areas 14, 17, 26 and 29. 

Comments can be submitted online

Although there was talk of doing so, the state agency has not announced if it will update its black bear hunting seasons for units in and around the Wyoming Range. 

Mike Koshmrl reports on Wyoming's wildlife and natural resources. Prior to joining WyoFile, he spent nearly a decade covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem’s wild places and creatures for the Jackson...

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  1. I have watch BLM, the wealthy cattle organizations and Wyoming Politics wipe out the herds of wild horses in Wyoming because its best for the cattle and sheep industries. Now G&F is starting in on Mountain Lions. G&F let nature run its course this winter. Now we have to save the hunter revenue for the state of Wyoming? To me, nature needs to remain in control instead of man. I’m against the harvest of more mountain lions in Wyoming.

  2. I was told buy an old rancher that if you don’t hunt them their numbers will go down cause the Tom’s will kill the kittens of other cats and the numbers will drop .

  3. Would a thousand (or more) hunters “harvest” (kill) more big game than 40 additional mountain lions over a season or year? If, as I suspect, it would be the hunters and the aim is to preserve big game numbers, reduce the former quota rather than increase the latter. I am confident most responsible guides and outfitters would understand this as being done also in their best future interest.

  4. The wildlife balance is self managing unless human wildlife management approaches distort the natural balance.
    Its nonsense that killing predators to compensate for natural losses of prey will rectify the natural loss of mule deer.
    Unfortunately “wildlife management” in Wyoming has often come down to meeting the needs of ranchers or hunters and revenue from licenses and little to the species.

  5. Why are you guys trying to imbalance the ecosystem? If the mule deer are dying off because of the cold…… Instead of the lions killing and eating to survive….! Why kill more lions just to save your precious hunting dreams and let nature be nature? We have to take a step back and realize that we are the problem with all of this and not be a problem anymore.

  6. The mountain lions are simply getting lunch. What if someone shot you on the way to Quiznos? You wouldn’t like that…

  7. I am so sick of these State and Federal agencies that totally ignore science to placate elite groups.

  8. You people need to relax! If you read the article one lion hunter said that most these areas don’t fill there quotas anyway, so it’s a wash, in our area the quota is 12 and hasn’t been filled in years. It is not like the population will be decimated, this will definitely give the ungulates a break.but coyotes kill as many if not more deer than cats. Need to keep all populations in check because the natural balance is not controlled without game management. Hell look at the cities, there out of control, just saying.

  9. Leave the mountain lions alone God wanted them here in Wyoming for a reason that’s why he put them here, this idea is gonna back fire so bad

    1. Idiot. When the habit to feed the lion because of winter kill (i.e. mule deer devastation) they will do anything to eat. That means ranchers livestock, domestic animals, and even YES, people. Just look at what ha happened in the Socialistic Republic of California!

      1. Livestock…. if mountain lions happen to kill livestock, we as taxpayers still have to support it due to the welfare ranchers.

        Welfare ranchers pay pennies for their public leases. Also, they take government subsidies from the general taxpayers. Why should the tax paying public continue to prop up the welfare ranchers when they contribute next to nothing?

  10. Throughout the years I have watched man get involved in thinking they know what is best for nature. Big mistake in many cases. Nature usually takes care of itself until man sticks his nose into it. What causes the problems is man. Going out hunting the wild life for sport. That’s the biggest mistake of all and then the wildlife has to pay the price. Big cattle ranchers don’t like the wildlife because they loose their cattle or sheep to them. Know there is the problem. Who was there know just as well as I do that wildlife was here long before. To solve the problem the ranchers need to take better precautions to protect their livestock. Stronger and better fences.The cats have just as much right to be there and live their lives out to the fullest as anyone of us. Please let the nature take its course. We already have destroyed a lot already to extinction.

    1. Everyone that hunts for recreational causes are going to hate what we have all said and take it the wrong way! But if we realized that they aren’t here to hurt you or me then we can all do what we live is enjoy nature to it’s fullest which includes big cats running around and doing their things and we can do our things which makes hunting what it is… Us vs them to see who can be better at it!!!!

  11. Meanwhile, 8 billion hominid primates do nothing to limit their own numbers as they continue to grossly consume the planet’s resources on the straight path to their own self-extinction, exceeding the global carrying capacity for their kind . Some ” management” may also be necessary of that situation. Expect interstellar spacecraft .

  12. At the time Wyoming became a state it was clearly evident that wildlife needed to be protected and managed. That led to the creation of the Game and Fish Department. Since that time, G&F management has made Wyoming the premier wildlife state in the lower 48. I fully trust them to navigate the rebound of big game after this past tough winter. The fact is, predator management is just as important as prey management. That appears to be what G&F is attempting to do. It makes perfect sense, and given current deer numbers in Western Wyoming is timely and needful.

  13. Nature and natural, before government stepped in hunters hunted for food kept hides and fur ,and killed predators that wanted to kill and steal from them themselves. Grizzlies, lions and wolves have spread heavily to those 4 areas the coyote has been an issue that’s always been checked. Raising nonresident tags was a financial mistake that reduced abilities and gives residents hunters the responsibility to keep in check most of these issues. Greed has raised it pathetic head and politics over winter feeding has wiped out generations of game, food sources and management theories. Sad sad deal these experts fall to politicians

  14. In this day and age, game management will always be a political football. A “natural order of things” and “letting Mother Nature take her course” went away with the development of cities, towns, the management of water resources, logging, mining, ranching, farming, highway construction, the introduction of plant and animal invasive species….and so much more (like wind and solar farms). “Natural” became a thing of the past a number of generations ago! To “let Mother Nature take her course” would require all of us to become hunter/gatherers. The old days are done and nothing survives or thrives except by the human management (or “mismanagement”) of resources to sustain an agricultural and technologically-based society.

  15. A good solid move. Targeted predator removal has been proven in such extreme times to greatly increase the pray species recovery. Which means a faster recovery for predator populations.

    Intense targeted predator removal will increase fawn survival and help to recover the population quickly. Yes the predators might drop naturally, but that drop will be from starvation. Seems that using hunting to decrease the predator population is far more humane than letting the animals
    Starve out.

  16. It may be beneficial to go back in history when officials messed with the natural flow of things and killled cougars to increase the
    deer population. Things became unbalanced for years so perhaps killing 50% would be too many. Just saying…….

  17. Are you hunting lion because the deer population is critical or theres too many mountain lions its a give and take lions keep the deer population in check

  18. This is ridiculous. “People in charge” get too much control over our wildlife.The wildlife made it for many centuries without these people making decisions for them.It seems like people are punishing wildlife for living in this state.

  19. Predators are a natural part of the ecosystem. Given the large die off of ungulates this winter it can definitely be assumed that predator #’s will fall on there own. There is a cycle at work. If y’all are actually scientists, ecologists or biologists you would 100% come to the same conclusion. Use your BRAINS! Don’t pander to hunting outfitters who bring in minimal money to the state versus all other non consumptive outdoor users. It’s obvious this is purely a bureaucratic decision and not one rooted in sound science, which is the root of your organization.

  20. I am curious how WY Game and Fish think they can play the role of Mother Nature (or they think they are “god”)and kill more of one species to ostensibly save another.
    The mountain lion population is decreasing yet somehow that never factors into the equation.
    Just a bloodlust to kill animals is the overarching theme.
    Shame on ALL of the people in charge who gleefully increase quotas and never step back to see how degrading to nature this is and how disgusting their actions are.

  21. Man vs mother nature
    More needs to be done to balance deer,elk,feed,especially in those hard winters.access to food ,dwindling due to drought,and access ,over population of man impeding on feeding areas.
    On one hand no help for feed to critters ,on the other hand man steps in to cull predators.mismangement,when we have the means to stabilize ,prevent winter kill, by stepping in. Seems the same to me as stepping in to reduce predator ,quantity. Unless you ,deciding by cost!
    I don’t agree with letting fire burn, not helping feed critters when have the means for both. Is it a simpler solution ,to let burn,let die ,and reduce predators that equates to management? Or mismanagement? Or should a better management idea incorporate ,a combination of both strategies?

  22. Terrible idea! What can I say? The more humans f—— with nature, the more humans have to f—— with nature! Where does that lead you?

  23. With all the suposidly dead animals winter killed why is it that these prey animals need to b kille?. Obviously theres plenty of food to sustain them for quite awhile before it isnt edible anymore. This sounds more like the same plight of the mustangs. You say theres to many and the winter didnt hurt the population. I disagree. Sounds like to me all you want to do is just kill animals to keep whoever has the most money happy instead of the real story.

  24. Get a grip on certain species, it has to be done, hate to say it there’s now to many bald eagles killing young antelope! Just cutting out what they can!!!

  25. I understand that hunting guides need to make a living, but killing off more cats and other predators so that they can continue to provide a better hunting experience for their clients seems a bit wrong. Actually WAY wrong. It’s wildlife/the natural environment so things can and do change, but interfering with an ecosystem simply so some can make a living does not seem right. If you’re a hunting guide, it is what it is, and you get the cards you’ve been dealt in any season regarding the natural environment. I don’t think it is a responsible move to strongly encourage/lean on the Game and Fish to kill off predators simply to better serve your clients. The predators need to actually survive vs. clients who just want something to hang on a wall. Ecosystems and wildlife are a long game, short term gains only hurt the bigger cause and ultimately everyone’s hunting experience.

  26. that all they can ever think of is kill kill kill?? They need people who can think about more than killing the answer to everthing.