By LAUNCE RAKE
In a decision that has drawn the ire of environmentalists,
The number of sheep in the region has dropped by at least 50 percent in recent years. Jim deVos, research branch chief for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, attributes that to the toll drought has taken on the population of the mule deer, the mountain lion's more common prey.
DeVos estimated that about 1,000 bighorn sheep remain in the Hoover Dam area on the
"The sheep population there is one of the most important to us in
Mountain lions will be caught and killed one at a time until predation is under control, he said. A start date for the program has not been set.
"Not every lion is killing sheep," deVos said. "We're trying to focus on known kills and trying to remove that lion that is killing sheep."
Daniel Patterson, a desert ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, sharply criticized the plan.
"This is a real mistake," Patterson said. "We're not even sure how many mountain lions might be in
"Lions are scarce. We don't need single species management, we need ecosystem management, and that includes pumas."
Frank Buono, a 33-year veteran of the National Park Service and a national board member of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said culling the mountain lions should be a last resort and should come only after extensive public discussion.
"We may not ultimately disagree with them doing this, but the public needs to be involved," Buono said.
He said that in the park service's Mojave National Preserve in
A similar process should be required for
"We are responsible for everything that happens in Lake Mead National Recreation Area," Dey said. "However, when it comes to hunting issues, we defer to the states for that responsibility. Typically, we defer to the states on hunting issues. When Congress created the park, that was part of the legislation, that the park could not interfere with hunting."
The 1964 law creating the Lake Mead recreation area says the interior secretary shall permit hunting "with the applicable laws and regulations of the
"This is a case where I have to say the park service is wrong," Buono said. "The park service has a responsibility to conserve wildlife. . . . It is quite clear, the park service holds the high ace. I am disappointed with them trying to hide behind some fictitious lack of authority."
Buono and Patterson suggested that the rights to hunt bighorns is propelling the plan to kill mountain lions. Patterson noted that the "tag" to hunt and kill bighorns can be auctioned for more than $100,000.
"In the entire state of
"If we wait, what do we risk? Time is of the essence," deVos said. "We feel the loss of 50 (percent) to 60 percent of this sheep population is a critical issue."
(Distributed by Scripps-McClatchy Western Service, http://www.shns.com.)
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Sign our petition here:
This message contains information from Big Cat Rescue that may be confidential or privileged. The information contained herein is intended only for the eyes of the individual or entity named above. You are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, disclosure, and/or copying of the information contained in this communication is strictly prohibited. The recipient should check this e-mail and any attachments for the presence of viruses. Big Cat Rescue accepts no liability for any damage or loss caused by any virus transmitted by this e-mail.