Arizona hunters woke up to good news this morning as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced it is giving up efforts to ban mountain lion and bobcat hunting and trapping in the Grand Canyon State—for now. The breaking news comes straight from Kitty Block, HSUS Acting President and CEO.
In a statement addressed to “Wild Cat Protectors,” Block said the reason for suspending efforts to gather enough signatures to put the hunting ban on the November ballot is due to an “increasingly competitive state and national landscape.” She also blamed the state’s recent passage of ballot initiative qualifications that require strict compliance standards. New rules make signature gathering more difficult and make it more expensive to hire paid circulators. In short, efforts to gather the minimum 150,642 valid signatures by July 5 were falling far short.
As NRAHLF.org reported in October 2017, the anti-hunting group Arizonans for Wildlife, working alongside the HSUS, began the ballot initiative process when it filed paperwork with the state attorney general’s office to put a cat hunting and trapping ban to a statewide vote on Nov. 6, 2018. If passed, it would be illegal to hunt or trap any “wild cat,” which in Arizona specifically means mountain lions and bobcats. The website also noted it was no surprise that the group’s campaign director, Kellye Pinkleton, happens to be the director of HSUS activities in Arizona.
Commenting on HSUS’ announcement for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), NRA-ILA Arizona State Liaison Keely Hopkins said, “Nobody has a better understanding of how to maintain Arizona's unique wildlife populations than Arizonans and wildlife professionals within the state. Now that the Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”) has suspended ballot proposal efforts, the Arizona Game and Fish Department is free to base conservation and management decisions on sound science instead of a political agenda.” Clearly, while anti-hunting groups are not finished trying to intervene in the science-based management of wildlife, whether in Arizona or any other state, for now there is a reprieve.
As for Block, while she may not have the name recognition of former HSUS President and CEO Wayne Pacelle, who spearheaded numerous campaigns to end hunting during his HSUS tenure, she worked for the group’s international arm, Humane Society International (HSI), for years. She was named to her current role earlier this year when Pacelle resigned after an internal investigation against him found credible allegations of sexual harassment. As NRAHLF.org reported at the time, Block’s HSI track record indicates she is likely to continue using HSUS’s $100 million annual budget to craft campaigns that ban hunting and compromise wildlife conservation.