Mountain lion ballot proposal debate heating up

Debate surrounding mountain lion hunting continues. This photo was taken on the Kaibab.  (Photo special to the Daily Miner)

Debate surrounding mountain lion hunting continues. This photo was taken on the Kaibab. (Photo special to the Daily Miner)

It hasn’t taken long for the debate to start over the attempt to put an end to hunting Arizona’s mountain lions and bobcats to the state’s voters.

It is all over social media. Both sides are pleading their cases with Arizona voters who will first decide if this issue should be decided by a vote in 2018.

Within the debate, charges are already flying from both sides alleging that the other is spreading false information and, in some cases, outright lies.

Sportsmen have taken to social media in a big way in an attempt to put out information that they hope that the general public will find to be true.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is prohibited by law from engaging in activity either for or against a proposed ballot initiative, but in the latest edition of their publication, Arizona Wildlife Views, there is a four page article on mountain lions and how the department is managing them. Some could say it was a coincidence that it came out at this time, but I don’t believe that.

This issue, if passed by the voters in Arizona, will not only affect sportsmen and the state’s wildlife, but it will have an impact on the agency that, by law, is designated to manage all wildlife in the state.

The “other side” is a group called Arizonans for Wildlife, which many believe is nothing more than a front for the Humane Society of the United States, a group whose mission is to stop all hunting in the United States.

AFW has started several websites and when sportsmen and women have posted on there, offering up information they feel the public should know, their posts are short-lived. They get banned from the site almost immediately.

Of course the antis will ban sportsmen from their sites. They are trying to sway voters into believing that the big cats aren’t being managed correctly, and that hunters and trappers have pushed bobcat populations to low levels when in fact, it is just the opposite, according to the AZGFD.

Some sportsmen believe that the anti-groups are infiltrating hunting sites and are trying to gather information that they can use for their purposes.

A group called the Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation (AZSFWC) is leading the effort to persuade voters not to buy into the animal rights statements that lion and bobcat hunting should be banned.

The AZGFD has put out a lot of information on how they are managing lions and bobcats in Arizona, and it makes for good reading for those who are interested in the facts and not the frantic hyperbole that the antis are spewing.

These anti-groups sure don’t want the average Arizona voter to see information that the department has published on this subject. Nope, they are counting on folks to get all “warm and fuzzy” when they see photos of baby mountain lions and bobcats and will sign the petition based on emotion and not science.

But that is the way these kinds of elections are done.

I’ve already seen photos of horses, and pets that have been attacked and severely injured or killed by lions. I’ve done stories about pets that have been killed in the Kingman area by lions.

These photos are pretty gory, so don’t expect to see those in family newspapers or on TV for a while. But I think they will come out, and rightfully so. After all, that’s what the big cats do. They are at the top of the food chain in the outdoors and they kill.

Oh did I mention that in California, a state that bans hunting the big cats, the California Game and Fish Department annually kills about 250 of the big cats in depredation situations? Of course you do know that lions have attacked and killed humans.

This is going to be an expensive battle and the antis are well organized and have deep pockets.

Sportsmen on the other hand aren’t well-organized and well-funded at this time. But those folks who fight these things will pull it all together as the July 2018 deadline approaches.

Right now the best thing the AZGFD and sportsmen have going for them is that what they are saying is the truth.