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Sun, Aug. 18

Column | Sportsmen better start writing to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission

Arizona Game and Fish Commission is taking public comments on whether or not to ban hunting contests for predatory and fur-bearing animals such as the coyote. (Adobe Images)

Arizona Game and Fish Commission is taking public comments on whether or not to ban hunting contests for predatory and fur-bearing animals such as the coyote. (Adobe Images)

As I reported in last week’s column, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission did pass, and by a unanimous vote, a proposal that would prohibit using any lethal method of take during a hunting contest for predatory and fur-bearing animals.

The Notice of Rulemaking Docket Opening and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published on Friday, April 12, which now opens a 30-day comment period for the public to provide feedback to the department and commission.

The department says all comments received from April 12–May 12 will become part of the official record of the proposed rulemaking.

The language of the proposed rule states that, “A person shall not by any means participate in, organize, or solicit participation in a contest where a participant uses or intends to use any device or implement to capture or kill predatory animals or fur-bearing animals as defined under ARS 17-101. For the purpose of this subsection, “contest” means a competition among participants where participants must register or record entry and pay a fee and prizes or cash are awarded to winning or successful participants.”

It is interesting to note that No. 8 of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking states, “The preliminary summary of the economic, small business, and consumer impact.”

This is the exact verbiage that the rule states. “The Commission’s intent in adopting the rule is to address social concerns associated with predator/fur-bearing contests, and to prescribe the manner and method of take for participants to a predator/fur-bearing contests.”

It also states, “Extensive public controversy exists about predator/fur-bearing contests that award prizes to participants who kill the largest number of or variety of predator/ fur-bearing animals or the contest is based on the combined weight of the animals a participant kills. To the extent these contests reflect on the overall hunting community, public outrage with these events has the potential to threaten hunting as a legitimate wildlife management function.”

Wow, that sure brings up some questions in my mind, and it may in yours, too.

First of all, note that this rule is based upon “social concerns” and not on any biological or scientific information or data. So this rule is the result of an anti-hunting group that complained to local governments and to the AZGFD that sportsmen shouldn’t be allowed to kill coyotes in a contest forum.

The coyote is the most numerous predator in Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department spends thousands of dollars each year to aerial gun (shoot from helicopters) these same predators in three different game management units where antelope are located.

Do they really believe that the same group which is protesting coyote hunting contests won’t be coming after THEM to try and stop aerial gunning? And who will defend that action? The Arizona sportsman.

When it comes to controlling and manipulating the numbers of these predators, which are documented to be the No. 1 cause of antelope and deer fawn mortalities in Arizona, does the commission think coyotes are given more of a chance to survive when pursued by hunters who use calls to try and bring them in or by department-hired gunners in a helicopter using shotguns to chase them down and kill them?

After you read through all the commission’s purported justification for this action, another statement really jumps out and maybe this is what is really driving this action. The commission is obviously concerned if they don’t give the antis something, then the next thing these folks will do is to try and stop all hunting, which of course would be disastrous for the wildlife of Arizona. And if that happens, of course, then we wouldn’t need many people in the Arizona Game and Fish Department if hunting was outlawed. They’d have to only worry about anglers, right?

The statement by the commission is that this rule is to address “social concerns,” and it doesn’t ever say this is driven by any biological or scientific reasons.

Let’s revisit the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which states, “The limited use of wildlife as a renewable resource is based on sound science.” Hmm.

There are of course other issues including the economic impact that this rule will cause. In one excerpt it states, “The Commission anticipates this rulemaking will impose a burden on persons regulated by the rule by prohibiting wildlife predator/fur-bearing contests.”

Geez, I wonder what the economic impact on the community of Seligman will be? And I’m sure the Mohave Sportsman Club will also see a loss of much needed funds if this rule is passed.

I would urge all of you sportsmen, whether you pursue coyotes or not, to submit your thoughts to the department and commission during this comment period.

You can submit your comments via email to or by U.S. mail to Arizona Game and Fish Department, ATTN: Rules Section, 5000 West Carefree Highway, Phoenix Arizona 85086.

You can also leave a message for each of the commissioners by going to the department’s website and click on “our agency.” Then go to the section for the commission. Click on that and each commissioner’s name and photo will appear. At the end of each commissioner’s bio, there is a section that says “contact me.”

You can leave them a message. I’ll bet if they get a large number of messages from the general public, it might cause them to reconsider what they are doing.

The antis are slowly chipping away at the privileges that we as lawful and ethical sportsmen possess. Sportsmen are indeed the true conservationists in America, not some well-funded but out-of-touch group that knows nothing and cares nothing about scientific wildlife management.


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