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Humane Society Sets Sights On Protecting Arizona Wildcats From Hunters
The Arizona Humane Society wants to protect mountain lions and bobcats from trophy hunters.
The animal rights group is crafting a ballot measure it hopes to have ready for next year’s election.
It would make pursuing, shooting or capturing any “wild cat” illegal, which would also include the jaguar, lynx and ocelot, already protected under the Endangered Species Act.
But, with an estimated 2,500 mountain lions in Arizona, Kurt Davis with the state Game and Fish Commission is concerned the larger wildcat could overwhelm other protected wildlife.
Focusing specifically on the mountain lion, "We have robust populations. They're not endangered,” Davis said.
However, if the mountain lion goes unmanaged, he is worried there will be, “significant implications for other species such as bighorn sheep, Sonoran pronghorn antelope.”
The department issues more than 10,000 hunting permits for mountain lions each year, which Davis credits for keeping the population in check.
Kellye Pinkleton with the Arizona Humane Society explained that the initiative still allows protection from mountain lions and other wildcats when humans, livestock or protected animals are in danger.
She outlined why the initiative only outlaws the killing of wildcats. “(They) are killed for trophies or for fur,” Pinkleton said.
She said her organization sees it this way, “This is not deer or elk where communities are using the whole animal.”
Davis is skeptical of the Humane Society’s campaign to use of the word “trophy.”
In the mountain lion’s case, "Trophy is a political notion that they’ve tested and polled,” without actual legal basis he warned.
Using that standard, Davis challenged Pinkleton’s logic: If hunting is only for eating, what rules apply when coyotes overwhelm an area?
Backers of the measure have until July to gather the necessary signatures to get the issue on the ballot.