Arizonans for Wildlife, a coalition of more than 30 non-governmental organizations and state legislators, has filed a ballot initiative with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office aimed at restricting trophy hunting and trapping of Arizona’s wild cats, including bobcats, mountain lions, jaguars, lynx and ocelots. None of these big cats are killed for food.
Arizonans for Wildlife will need to gather more than 150,642 signatures by July 5, 2018 to quality for the November 2018 election.
If qualified and approved by voters, the measure would restrict the taking of mountain lions, bobcats, jaguars, ocelots, and lynx on state lands. The measure includes reasonable exemptions for killing a wild cat if an individual’s personal safety is threatened and for the removal of wild cats if livestock or property are targeted. Activities by researchers, zoos, rehabilitation facilities, and wildlife managers or other purposes are also exempt as authorized by law.
“If passed, this initiative will spare thousands of Arizona’s wild cats from a cruel death at the hands of trophy hunters and trappers, who chase down these animals with packs of hounds, and trap them with barbaric steel-jawed, leg-hold traps and snares. It will also spare the dependent kittens, who are often left behind as a result of trophy hunting, from an agonizing death by starvation, predation or exposure,” said Kellye Pinkleton, campaign director for Arizonans for Wildlife and the Arizona state director of The Humane Society of the United States. “Trophy hunters kill these wild cats for nothing more than to display their heads or hides, and Arizonans don’t want to see their iconic species subjected to such pointless cruelty,” she added.
• Trophy hunting is where the primary motivation is to kill an animal in order to display its body, whole or in part, or for bragging rights but not for subsistence.
• Trophy hunters and trappers kill thousands of mountain lions and bobcats legally in Arizona each year. Arizona’s policies are extreme, with the state ranking sixth in the U.S. for the number of mountain lions killed by trophy hunters. Bobcat hunting is unlimited in the state. California has barred any trophy hunting of lions for more than a quarter century, and has policies in place to protect bobcats that are similar to the elements of the Arizona initiative.
• The majority of mountain lions are killed by trophy hunters using paid outfitters’ hounds to track and bay the cats. Packs of barking hounds stress wildlife, including non-target animals such as deer, which can have detrimental effects on their health and reproductive abilities, studies show. These hounds run on public lands, and often trespass onto private lands or restricted lands where they are not permitted, such as national park lands.
• A female mountain lion will spend up to 24 months raising and provisioning her young. If she is killed, she can leave up to three kittens orphaned. Biologists have learned recently using remote trail cameras that kittens under 12 months cannot dispatch prey on their own. So orphaned lion kittens are often left to die from dehydration, starvation, predation or exposure. The state never counts these deaths in its total hunting quota.
• Bobcats are killed by trapping or other means, including shooting by trophy hunters who are permitted to use hounds to track and bay bobcats. Trophy hunters are also permitted to use bait to lure in bobcats for easy hunting.
• Bobcats are trapped with painful steel-jawed leghold traps on private land and cage traps on public land. Traps are only required to be checked once a day, or in some cases just once every three days, so animals are left suffering in excruciating pain for hours. The trapped animal may die slowly from exposure, or injure itself trying to escape.
• Arizona is home or a travel corridor to wild cats found almost nowhere else in the United States: jaguars, ocelots and lynx. Although trophy hunting and trapping of these three cat species is prohibited, these cats or their kittens could be accidentally shot, trapped or killed by hounds. The initiative will establish that trophy hunting of jaguars or ocelots won’t be opened up at any point in the future.