Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arizona: Commissioner suggests "lion free" zones

09/15/2009 09:56 AM
Tony Davis

Imagine, you mountain lion-lovers and lion-haters out there, the possibility of setting aside some areas of this state as lion-free areas, to help better manage the land. How would that sound?

It sounded like an idea worth checking out to Jack Husted, the newest State Game and Fish commissioner. He floated it at last Saturday’s commission meeting in Phoenix during an exchange with Stephanie Nichols-Young, president of the Animal Defense League of Arizona, after Nichols-Young questioned the idea of extending the lion hunting season from nine months to a year long. Husted’s first comment was an apparent reference to an earlier debate over whether the state should be killing mountain lions known to eat bighorn sheep in and around the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge near Yuma.

HUSTED: When we were talking about lions, we asked what would be an acceptable trigger to take a mountain lion if it was eating an entrie population. We didn’t get an answer. So I guess I have a bit of trepidation about the ultimate goal or ultimate desire of some of these organizations that expound on the wonderful things in a non-hunter environment. We’re not in that environent. We must manage the wildlife for the state of Arizona. We have areas that are elk-free; where elk are not allowed to expand into. Shouldn’t there be mountain lion areas that are mountain-lion free, for other purposes, for management purposes?

NICHOLS-YOUNG: There are so many ways I can respond to that I don’t even know where to go with that. But I’ll say: Do you want Disneyland or functioning ecosystems? Because if you want functioning ecosystems, we should have a predator prey dynamic, and that interaction and all the benefit that it provides.

H: Do you accept man as a predator?

N-Y: Yes, but unfortunately they’re not as good as natural predators like wolves and mountain lions. Animals don’t have Boone and Crockett points when they hunt. (Boone and Crockett points refer to a scoring system used to rate antlers on deer, for instance, as key points toward rating trophy animals). . .

H: Point taken.



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