HSUS Pushes Arizona Cougar Hunting Ban via Ballot Box

HSUS Pushes Arizona Cougar Hunting Ban via Ballot Box

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)—the top financial backer of anti-hunting extremists’ initiatives around the country—is using what amounts to a front group in Arizona to try and ban mountain lion, bobcat and other big-cat hunting.

Recently, a group calling itself “Arizonans for Wildlife” officially filed language with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to begin the ballot initiative process to put just such a hunting ban to a statewide vote in November 2018. Of course, it’s no surprise that the campaign director for Arizonans for Wildlife is Kellye Pinkleton, who also directs HSUS activities in Arizona.

Pro-hunting, pro-conservation organizations such as the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and the Sportsmen’s Alliance have been tracking this issue for months as reported back in January. The Sportsmen’s Alliance was the first to alert hunters to this new threat in a press release a few days ago, stating: “The language filed by the anti-hunting group would remove mountain lions and bobcats from the state’s list of huntable species. Under the proposed language, mountain lions and bobcats, along with jaguars, ocelots and lynx, would be called ‘wild cats,’ and be prohibited from hunting or trapping.”

To get the issue onto Arizona’s 2018 ballot, Arizonans for Wildlife will have to gather 150,642 valid voter signatures by July 5, 2018 to qualify for the election on Nov. 6, 2018. 

“The proposal does not allow the Arizona Fish and Game Department to manage mountain lion and bobcat numbers to prevent over population that can result in dangerous encounters with people, as well as livestock losses,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of the Sportsmen’s Alliance. “It also doesn’t allow the department to manage wild cat numbers to protect other wildlife that will likely be impacted by an unchecked population of mountain lions, like Arizona’s iconic bighorn sheep.” 

Heusinkveld said that the HSUS used the same tactic in Maine for bear hunting when Katie Hansberry was appointed campaign director for Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting. “Hansberry was also the Maine state director for HSUS, and HSUS was the biggest donor to that campaign,” said Heusinkveld.

The HSUS, by the way, is also the first "endorsement" listed on the Arizonans for Wildlife’s website. So while HSUS is hiding behind the name Arizonans for Wildlife, Arizona voters deserve to know that this issue is being run by the HSUS—the extremist animal rights group that seeks to destroy all hunting.

The HSUS has been the principle financial backer of anti-hunting ballot issues since 1990, bankrolling initiatives to ban mountain lion, black bear, bobcat, lynx and mourning dove hunting in states from Maine to California. For example, the Sportsmen’s Alliance notes that in recent years the HSUS spent approximately $2.6 million on a failed attempt to ban bear hunting methods in Maine alone. The HSUS is using its misleading mainstream Americans with emotionally-charged claims once again to advance its agenda. In justifying the need for its latest ballot initiative, check out Arizonans for Wildlife’s statement:

“Arizonans for Wildlife is working to protect our state's wild cats from extreme cruelty by prohibiting the trophy hunting and trapping of mountain lions, bobcats, ocelots, jaguars and Canada lynx."

As Vice President of Communications and Marketing of the Sportsmen’s Alliance Brian Lynn explained, another tactic of the antis is to use the term “trophy hunting” to sway public opinion and negate the science behind conservation-based hunting. “Also, they list Canada lynx—which doesn't even exist in Arizona! Jaguars and ocelots are already protected in Arizona, but including them allows the antis to play the ‘endangered’ and ‘nearly extinct’ angle in the press.”

The Sportsmen’s Alliance and NRA-ILA have been on the same page on numerous hunting and conservation issues, including HSUS’ afore-mentioned attempts to stop bear hunting in Maine. And in 2015, for another example, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources proposed expanding bear hunting in that state. The HSUS immediately opposed the plan while both NRA-ILA and the Sportsmen’s Alliance supported the expanded hunt, which was eventually approved.

Fortunately, these two groups, alongside like-minded sportsmen’s organizations across America, continue working to get out the truth about hunting not just in Arizona but in every state. As American hunters know, the science of wildlife conservation has proven repeatedly that wildlife, as a whole, benefits when all wildlife species are managed—including predators like mountain lions and bobcats.