HSUS Plans Ballot Initiative to Ban Big Cat Hunting and Trapping in Arizona
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the self-proclaimed "most effective animal protection organization," recently filed a proposed ballot initiative with the Arizona Secretary of State to allow Arizonans to vote on a ban on big-cat hunting and trapping in the state, including mountain lions and bobcats, the Sportsmen's Alliance reports. If approved by the Secretary, HSUS would have until July 2018 to gather enough supporting signatures to have the initiative appear on the November 2018 election ballot.
According to the Sportsmen's Alliance, "[t]he proposal purports to allow for the taking of wild cats when a life is in imminent danger, or in cases of livestock depredation, but in both cases, a mountain lion or bobcat could only be killed after a dangerous encounter has occurred or significant financial loss has been incurred."
Currently, the Arizona Fish and Game Department manages these cat populations through well-regulated hunting and trapping opportunities. Without sound science determining the regulations surrounding big cat management, game populations (deer, specifically) and ecosystems will suffer. The initiative would strip the Arizona Fish and Game of all power to manage big-cat populations, putting "Arizona’s iconic bighorn sheep population at risk, along with many other prey species."
The National Deer Alliance outlines predator and competitor management as one of the focus areas in our strategic plan. It's not a priority because we don't appreciate predators and the role they play in wildlife management; rather, we understand that careful management of predator populations is for the greater good of all wildlife, and people. Deer are a significant prey item of mountain lions and bobcats. If left unregulated by hunting, these cat populations will reach levels that disrupt the predator-prey balance. This is not only bad for deer populations, but other prey animals as well.
While this particular issue is in Arizona, we see similar tactics across the country, and it can involve any of our major North America predators: mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, bears and wolves. In fact, "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 along with trapping in states from Maine to California," the Sportsmen's Alliance notes.