Initiative gathers signatures to ban wild cat hunting

Published 10/16/17 in News 4 Tucson by Sam Salzwedel

TUCSON – An organization has launched a campaign to ban hunting wild cats.

A ballot initiative would end bobcat and mountain lion hunting in Arizona. Nancy Young Wright is volunteering on the campaign.

“I find that really repulsive. I don't think there is any need to be hunting animals for trophies just for somebody's bragging rights,” Young Wright said. “The animals can manage themselves.”

In the latest years numbers were available, hunters killed 322 mountain lions and 781 bobcats. Trappers harvested 867 bobcats, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Mick Rusing is a hunter who has never killed a mountain lion, but he does not want the practice banned.

“Science should trump emotion,” Rusing said. “And the Arizona Game and Fish Department is really an exceptional outfit. Everybody there is like a wildlife biologist.”

A hunting license costs $37. An additional tag for a mountain lion costs $15. Almost the entire state is open most of the year.

“Unfortunately the Game and Fish agency isn't really a balanced agency in my opinion,” Young Wright said. “They tend to be totally skewed toward the hunting side of the equation. And the wildlife in this state belongs to all of us, not just the hunters.”

The Humane Society of the United States is leading the initiative. The organization’s president and CEO, Wayne Pacelle, was in Arizona last week launching the campaign.

“Groups like the Humane Society, they try everything they can do to stop hunting of any type and all types,” Rusing said. “And so they will go for the one that they get the most sympathy on.”

The initiative needs 150,642 valid signatures by July 5 to make the ballot.

It would also prohibit hunting ocelots, jaguars and lynx, which is already illegal. But it would protect them in the future if the animals ever become common.

Read the original article here.