AZ Game and Fish Commission Approves Extreme Hunting Proposals
At its December 2011 meeting, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission continued its anti-predator policies, approving night hunting of coyotes and cougars; "English-Style" fox, rabbit and coyote hunting and putting up more road blocks to the reintroduction of Mexican gray wolves.
"It was a disappointing, but not surprising day", said Animal Defense League of Arizona president Stephane Nichols-Young.
Night Hunting Approved
It was late in the day when the Commission finally heard the night hunting proposal. Despite overwhelming public opposition, including some from the hunting community, the Commission approved by a 3-1 vote the use of artificial lights to hunt coyotes and cougars (also called mountain lions) in parts of Arizona. Commissioner Norman Freeman was the lone 'No' vote and Commissioner John Harris was absent.
Upon approval of the new rule, the Commission moved up a Saturday agenda item, and immediately implemented the rule in portions of the state. ADLA hopes to have a map up soon to depict those areas. It does have the game management unit ("gmu") numbers where night hunting is permitted, if you have specific questions.
The Commission approved night hunting despite concerns about public safety, and potentially detrimental impact on endangered species and law enforcement. In 2002, the Commission followed Department recommendations to reject a similar proposal. At that time, the Department wrote a thorough memo explaining its position, attaching memos and letters from a number of individual Department biologists who also opposed night hunting.
"English- style" Hunting with Dogs Approved
In voting to approve the rule package, the Commission also voted to allow people to use dogs to hunt and kill animals. There are two organizations in Arizona that use dogs - either packs of beagles or foxhounds - to chase, and in some cases kill, jackrabbits, coyotes and foxes. Although this type of hunting is prohibited in England; it is now legal in Arizona.
Creating Road Blocks to Mexican Gray Wolf Reintroduction
The Commission voted 4-1 to remain as part of the Mexican gray wolf program, but to oppose any new wolf releases until a new management plan, environmental impact statement and 10j Rule are approved. In a moment of confusion, the motion was also stated as 'no new wolf reintroductions until a definitive management plan is in place.' Either way the intent is to block any new wolf releases in the near future.
Dr. Benjamin Tuggle of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service attended the meeting, and was peppered with an alternating lecture and barage of questions by Commissioner Jack Husted. The Commission demonstrated its primary allegiance to protecting ranchers and cattle, rather than its statutory duty to manage willdife and its common law duty to do so minding its public trust for all citizens.
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