An asset to the community

The Coconino Coalition for Children and Youth unveiled its final PAWS mountain lion sculpture in the lobby of the Americans for Community Action Family Health Center last Thursday. The sculpture was designed by local artist Molly Sutton and a group of children in the Fit Kids of Arizona program to promote healthy living.

Science-based decision-making is being threatened by an initiative being circulated by a group calling themselves Arizona For Wildlife.

The truth is, the initiative effort for the 2018 ballot is being driven by the Humane Society of the United States and, just so you know, HSUS has very little to do with humane shelters. And this new name, Arizona For Wildlife, is just one of the many aliases HSUS uses, according to the Huffington Post.

The very idea of replacing scientific wildlife management with the whims and emotions of the ballot box should disturb us all.

HSUS leader Wayne Pacelle is an avid anti-hunter whose

Let’s take a look at AFW claims.

AFW claims; “Each year thousands of mountain lions and bobcats are killed in Arizona.”

Here are the facts. The annual harvest of mountain lions in Arizona is 250 with a stable population of 2,700. Considering a male mountain lion home range is 100 square miles and they don’t tolerate other male lions in their home range and the available habitat for mountain lions in Arizona is 75,240 square miles, we have one mountain lion for every 28 square miles. Ban lion hunting and more mountain lions will have to kill other mountain lions just to survive.

The annual harvest of bobcats is 2,000 by hunters and 1,000 by trappers on private land. That is 4 percent of the Arizona population of 65,000, per a Cornell University study. A bobcat's home range is 12 square miles. And, the bobcat population in Arizona is growing.

The point is, you cannot stockpile wildlife. We tried that with deer on the North Kaibab years ago and it ended in disaster. There is only so much habitat, that habitat is shrinking and science-based management is needed now more than ever.

AFW claim; “They are killed by the cruelest methods imaginable”

They are referring to trapping. Trapping was banned in Arizona is 2006 but traps can still be used on private land. I am not a trapper and having heard all the horror stories years ago, I went out with a trapper. Every animal I saw in a foothold trap was asleep, every one. I saw no agony.

AFW claims; “Mountain lions are chased down by hounds and shot at point-blank range.”

Yes, they are and for a very good reason. Hunting lions with hounds allows the hunter to determine the sex of the lion before pulling the trigger. The goal is to protect the female lions. Using hounds makes this possible. Killing a female lion with cubs is illegal.

AFW uses the term “Trophy Hunter” in a disparaging way without defining it.

Mountain lions are a game animal in Arizona and it is illegal to waste the meat. And, mountain lion meat, like elk meat, deer meat, or beef, is very tasty. There are no “trophy hunts” for any wildlife species in Arizona.

AFW says; “If a trophy hunter kills the female the kittens die a horrible death.”

That is why we use hounds and the reason we have hunting seasons all designed to protect the females and it is illegal to kill a female with cubs. And there are no “trophy hunts.”

AFW says, “Jaguars, ocelots and lynx can fall victim to these cruel methods as well”

Liar, liar pants on fire, as we said when we were kids. There are no lynx in Arizona. There have been six jaguars sighted in the state since 1960 that have crossed the border from Mexico, and jaguars are federally and state protected and are not hunted or trapped.

There is usually one confirmed ocelot sighted in southern Arizona each year. Ocelots like jaguars live in Mexico. Ocelots are also protected and are not hunted or trapped.

Why is HSUS trying to sell the idea federally and state protected animals that are not hunted or trapped need even more protection?

AFW says; “Because Arizona Game and Fish and the Arizona Legislature have failed to adequately protect Arizona’s wild cats over the decades we call upon Arizona’s voters to do it”.

Another lie. The Arizona mountain lion population is stable and has been for decades. The bobcat population has increased over the decades. And, by design, the Arizona Legislature has no authority to make wildlife management decisions. That is done by wildlife biologists using scientific data.

The goal of HSUS-funded Arizonan for Wildlife is, as HSUS leader Wayne Pacelle said, “If we could shut down all sport hunting in a moment, we would.”

That is what this initiative effort is all about and you need to ask why is AFW trying to use emotion to achieve their mission.

Let’s keep science in charge of our wildlife.

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