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In the Press: Respect Both the Hunted, Hunters

Arizona Republic Editorial, Nov. 26, 2011 (posted 11/29/11)

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The jaguar recently sighted in southern Arizona was the first seen since 2009. Along with wolves, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, bears, antelope, coyotes and countless other species, it is part of the magnificent diversity of our state's wildlife.

And it is all yours.

Arizona's wildlife belongs to the people of the state.

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission was created to set policies for managing and conserving your wildlife.

This important public trust requires balancing the wishes of all Arizonans, those who hunt and fish as well as those who watch and take pictures. It demands stewardship of all species, those that are hunted and those that are hunters themselves.

Members of the commission need to hear the voices of Arizonans who care about that balance. Especially now.

The commission will be considering changes at its meeting [Friday and Saturday] that demand scrutiny.

Unfortunately, because of ill-considered legislation passed last session, these changes can be made without going through the usual rule-making process, which was designed to keep things from moving too fast.

One of the proposed changes would allow use of artificial lights for night hunting of mountain lions and coyotes. The goal is to prevent predators from eating too many game species.

We have no problem with wildlife management that assures hunters have access to popular game species. But there are plenty of opportunities to hunt coyotes and cougars in the daytime.

Hunting them at night by artificial light is a danger to the safety of other hunters, Game and Fish officers and campers. That's not our opinion. That's according to a Game and Fish Department memo from 2002.

Targeting predators for the sake of hunters ignores science. Unlike hunters, natural predators do not go after trophy animals. They take out the weak. Over time, predators improve the quality of species they prey on and contribute to the health of the ecosystem. Arizona's wildlife management needs to reflect that. …

Hunting is a legitimate activity. But it needs to be balanced with the interests of the other Arizonans to whom our wildlife belongs.

The agenda also includes discussion of the state's participation in the federal effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Last year, the commission voted to support a misguided effort in Congress to remove these wolves from the endangered-species list, even though there are only about 50 of the lobos in the wild.

Environmentalists fear the commission may vote this year to oppose any new releases of wolves to the recovery area. This would be a mistake. Public support has been on the side of the wolves since they were first released in the recovery area in 1998.

The commission should reflect the interests of all Arizonans -- and that's most likely to happen if Arizonans take the time to let the commissioners know how they want their wildlife managed.

More details: http://www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/commission.shtml

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To read the full article posted on the Arizona Republic website, click here.


PLEASE SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR IN SUPPORT OF THE HIGHEST PROTECTIONS FOR MEXICAN WOLVES!

You can use these talking points (please use your own words as this will be much more effective):

*Start by thanking the AZ Republic for this editorial.

*Express your support for more releases of Mexican gray wolves into the wild where they belong.

*With only around 55 wolves in the wild, Mexican gray wolves are one of the most endangered mammals on the planet.

*There are many wolves in captive facilities that could increase the wild population, but no new wolf packs have been released into the wild since November, 2008.

*Mexican gray wolves are critical to the health of our ecosystems and other wildlife.

*Polling shows that the vast majority of Arizona’s residents support the Mexican wolf reintroduction program; the Arizona Game and Fish Department should do so as well.

*Night hunting poses unacceptable risks to wildlife, including endangered Mexican wolves, and to public safety. The Commission should reject this rule change.

WOLF SUPPORTERS ARE NEEDED TO ATTEND THE AZ GAME AND FISH MEETING ON DECEMBER 2 AS WELL-CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.


LETTERS CAN BE SUBMITTED HERE.

Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Zoo.