by Brian McCombie - Friday, January 27, 2017
Arizona sportsmen face an extreme threat to their hunting heritage and future wildlife conservation efforts with yesterday's introduction of Senate Bill (SB) 1182. Referred to the Senate’s Natural Resources Committee on Jan. 26, SB 1182 seeks to ban the hunting of both mountain lions and bobcats statewide and give these predators protection as endangered species.
Submitted by Arizona State Senator Steve Farley (D-Tucson), SB 1182 aims to make it a crime to hunt mountain lions and bobcats in Arizona—punishable by a minimum fine of $8,000! But a reading of the bill finds no support or proof that these cats are in any way endangered.
HSUS Strikes Again
As for how this came about, look no further than the anti-hunting-extremist Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). A ban on mountain lion and bobcat hunting in Arizona was also specifically cited as necessary in a recent report that highlighted Arizona among the top five "deadliest" states for lions and bobcats. The HSUS report argued that such hunting must be stopped because it had “no scientific or management justification. …” Now Arizona sportsmen are left wondering how a documented animal-welfare-extremist initiative turned up as part of a bill actually being considered by a state senate committee.
Exposing HSUS Lies
Mountain lions and bobcats endangered? Not according to the wildlife professionals at Arizona Fish and Game Department (AZGFD) who manage these predators. The estimated mountain lion population—between 2,500 and 3,000 animals—is described as “robust and expanding,” and the cats are appearing in new areas of the state with increased frequency. In addition, the AZGFD notes, “The department manages mountain lions in a manner that maintains a viable, robust population using hunter harvest as one of the tools for management.”
According to the AZGFD website, “The hunting season in Arizona allows unlimited tags with a bag limit of one mountain lion per hunter per year. Occasionally, bag limits are increased in limited areas for the purpose of management or research. … Data from the reporting information indicates that lion harvests have gradually increased over time and range between 250 and 350 animals per year, of which approximately 12 percent are taken by predator control agents.”
And bobcats? The AZGFD website explains they are “very common and found throughout the state.”
Taking the Lead from the NRA
Quick to take a stand against HSUS lies, “The NRA opposes the radical changes to mountain lion hunting contained in SB 1182. Removing mountain lions from the category of Big Game and Game Mammals and placing them in a protected class is ill advised when there is a sustainable population that can be controlled through hunting,” said Dan Reid, Arizona state lobbyist for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA). “The futile attempts to address public safety and depredation through more bureaucracy is misguided considering that the state’s Fish and Game Department, which closely monitors animal populations including mountain lions and other felid, has not requested the change for felid to become a protected class.”
Reid adds that this latest effort by HSUS and its band of anti-hunting followers is not based on science and sound wildlife policy. “Instead it simply falls in line with HSUS’ anti-hunting agenda that it is attempting to push throughout the country—and jeopardizes true wildlife management.”
Call to Action
At the moment, the bill has not been scheduled for a hearing, but the time to act is now. NRA-ILA urges Arizona sportsmen to contact their state senators and oppose SB 1182 as being without any scientific or conservation merit before this bill goes any further.
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