When Arizona voters go to the polls this November, they won’t have to decide about outlawing “trophy hunting.” Liberal activists at the Humane Society didn’t gather enough valid signatures to get the proposal included this year.
They could have made it, Kitty Block insists, if only they didn’t have to comply with state law. The U.S. Humane Society’s acting president blames “laws governing the circulation of petitions and requiring ‘strict compliance,’” as the reason the measure didn’t make it.
That is just an excuse, the president of Conserve and Protect Arizona explains. The real reason they couldn’t get enough support was that “Arizona voters reject highly political efforts by a non-Arizona organization to destroy science-based management of wildlife.”
The Humane Society of the United States wanted to protect the state’s cute and furry wild cats, like bobcats and mountain lions, from cruel and vicious hunters who have no interest in eating the animals for food, only hanging heads on the wall or keeping the pelt.
If they had their way, it would be illegal to “pursue, shoot, snare, net, or capture” one.
Ms. Block feels that if they were allowed to hire professional petition circulators, and weren’t burdened by making sure that all the people signing are really registered voters, then getting the 150,642 valid signatures needed by July 5th would be a snap.
A spokesman for the state’s Game and Fish Commission says the agency didn’t want to have anything to do with the proposal because it would be a huge mistake. Prey animals would be wiped out, Kurt Davis maintains.
The commission member notes that the wild cat population has been steady for years. Looking at the figures for mountain lions, there are around 2,500 statewide. About 360 were killed by hunters with permits in 2015, which is the latest figure available.
Without controlling the mountain lion population by hunting, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope would be “decimated,” he asserts.
Coyote overpopulation in the Southeastern part of the state, near Wilcox, is taking a huge toll on the pronghorns. Hunters on the ground and from helicopters had to be called in. Baby pronghorn fawns don’t stand a chance.
“Fawns are most susceptible to predation during the first few weeks of life. Our intent is to reduce predation to provide newborn antelope a window of survivability,” the regional Game and Fish supervisor Raul Vega reports.
Killing off the extra coyotes is the only way to give the newborn fawns any chance at all for survival. Mountain lions and bobcats like baby antelopes too.
Not only is a measure like that bad for the environment, Davis thinks it is only the tip of a much bigger and more dangerous iceberg lurking beneath the surface. It plays right into the hands of those who want to ban hunting totally.
The Arizona head of the Humane Society feels that animals hunted primarily for trophies are somehow different enough to justify the specially protected status.
Without considering that overpopulated colonies of predator animals often starve to death and kill each other in competition for food, after the animals that they prey on disappear, Kellye Pinkleton justifies the thin end of the wedge.
Referring to animals killed mainly to hang on a wall or for their fur, Ms. Pinkleton does not want a lion killed just for “bragging rights.”
To her, trophy animals are not the same as “deer or elk where communities are using the whole animal, whether for the meat or whatever. This is not a subsistence animal.”
Back at Game and Fish, Kurt Davis isn’t buying it. The “trophy” designation is one of those buzz word terms that politicians use that has no solid meaning in the real world. There is no legal basis at all to justify that kind of logic, he says.
According to Davis, if the test of whether it is okay to kill an animal or not comes down to whether or not you eat it, then coyotes would be prohibited too and all the baby antelopes would be dead.
That point of view totally ignores the fact that hunting is “a tool used by our state’s biologists … to manage our state’s wildlife.”
Jaguars, lynx, and ocelot are already protected because they are endangered species. Bobcats, on the other hand, are the most common wild feline in the state.
Bobcats can weigh up to 30 pounds. Beautifully marked in various orange, tan, gray and black markings, they may look like a domestic tabby but they often kill small deer.
They are famous for carrying off small household pets from backyards. Their razor sharp claws and large teeth have sent many Arizona ranchers off to the emergency room.
Mountain lions are much, much bigger. Males can weigh in at 145 pounds.
If you ever find yourself face to face with one, Andy Fisher with Saguaro National park reminds, the only reason a mountain lion looks and thinks about another animal, even humans, is because “they are considering if they can eat it.”
The last thing you want to do is run. “Seeing prey run away triggers that instinct in the cat to chase you down.” It is much better to stand your ground, look fierce and bigger than you are. Better yet, if you have the right permit, pull the trigger.