The Arizona Game and Fish Department is proposing several rule changes relative to wildlife. Conservationists are particularly concerned about a proposal to allow the Game and Fish Commission to include night hunting of coyotes and mountain lions in its hunt orders. This poses public safety concerns, will make it more difficult for law enforcement to identify poachers, and is likely to result in the shooting of more non-target species, including endangered Mexican gray wolves as well as domestic animals.
Game and Fish is increasingly targeting predators supposedly in the name of increasing prey species. This is an outdated and unscientific approach to wildlife management. Aldo Leopold recognized the problems with this type of management 80 years ago and understood that predators are key to healthy functioning ecosystems. According to Game and Fish itself, the agency did not rely on any study in its evaluation of or justification for the rules.
Night hunting is the latest effort to target predators. Night hunting poses public safety issues. It will be much more difficult for individuals to identify target species in the dark of night. This can risk the safety of those camping or hiking in these night hunting areas, not to mention risking protected species such as wolves and domestic animals, especially dogs.
Allowing night hunting also will make it more difficult for law enforcement to do its job and identify and charge wildlife poachers. Those engaged in illegal activities can always use the claim that they were night hunting as a cover for their activities. It is difficult enough to catch poachers, without this added hurdle.
Ask Game and Fish to reject this proposal, to recognize the critical role that predators play in functioning healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge the risks to public safety, and to concede that a policy such as this will result in the killing of more non-target species, such as endangered wolves and domestic animals.
Send your comments to Game and Fish by November 16th. To submit comments, call (480) 528-7986 or e-mail DMcGehee@azgfd.gov or firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to view the Notice of Exempt Rulemaking.
AZ Game and Fish will discuss this (item 15) and the Mexican wolf reintroduction program (10:30 a.m. time certain) during their December 2 meeting at the Game and Fish Department headquarters in Phoenix. The public is invited and encouraged to attend commission meetings at the Phoenix headquarters or view the meeting via a video conference feed at any of the department’s regional offices. Please, if you can, attend and speak out against night hunting and in support of the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program. You can view the agenda for the meeting here.
Thank you for all you do for wolves!