Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Tue, March 26

Commission to hear proposals on predator contests

Coyotes have been identified as the number one predator of deer and antelope fawns in Arizona. (Photo special to The Daily Miner)

Coyotes have been identified as the number one predator of deer and antelope fawns in Arizona. (Photo special to The Daily Miner)

I hate to be the one who says, “I told you so,” but the Arizona Game and Fish Commission at its February meeting in Yuma voted to start the rulemaking process to try and control coyote calling contests in Arizona.

And in a few days, at the March 15 commission meeting in Bisbee, the department has a rule that would address predator hunting contests on the agenda.

Note that I said “predator” and not just coyotes.

Hank Scutoski is a member of the Arizona Predator Callers and recently sent out an email to members of that group in which he addressed what he thinks may happen at this meeting.

Scutoski said he and the APC aren’t sure what will be proposed. But whatever it is, he hopes it won’t become a rule.

“There is no biological reason for any restriction,” Scutoski said.

He believes the department could propose everything from a total ban on contests to other restrictions on hunters who participate in predator calling contests where prizes are given. Scutoski said the department has not made their proposal public.

Scutoski noted that a group called Project Coyotes has been actively involved in going to various cities, towns and county governments showing a movie that condemns coyote hunting contests.

As a result of their efforts, at least one city and several counties have passed resolutions condemning these predator hunts. Those counties include Yavapai and Coconino.

It is believed that this is part of an effort to put pressure on AZGFD and the commission to regulate and maybe even prohibit these hunts.

And what about the Mohave Sportsman Club, the area’s largest outdoor recreational club? Each year the MSC sponsors a predator hunt called Antelope Eaters, which in the past has drawn as many as 500 sportsmen from all over Arizona and adjoining states. The stated purpose of the hunt is to eliminate coyotes in specific units in Arizona where there are antelope herds.

Is the MSC going to get involved in this battle?

In my opinion, as the club’s former government liaison for 10 years and life member of the group, they better hurry up and get involved with other clubs and groups, or Antelope Eaters may be a thing of the past.

The MSC hunts are primarily in units where there are antelope herds. The number one predator of antelope fawns are coyotes. In the past, MSC has scheduled this annual hunt at a time when the antelope does are starting to give birth.

And don’t forget that AZGFD has in the past been at this event to collect data from coyotes brought in by hunters at Antelope Eaters as part of their endangered Black-footed ferret project.

But the antis don’t care about this.

They don’t care that citizens’ cats and small dogs are a favorite prey of coyotes.

They don’t care about ranchers losing calves and foals to the most numerous predator in Arizona. It has been suggested that Arizona has a coyote population that is equal to a coyote for every square mile of land within our borders. Arizona has 113,990 square miles, so as you can see, there are no shortages of these predators in our state. Obviously there is no biological reason to try and control these events. Currently the AZGFD allows coyotes to be hunted year round.

Restricting or stopping these hunts won’t be done for any biological reason. Nope, this is just part of the antis’ agenda to stop not only predator hunting, but all hunting in Arizona. And the question is, why is the commission going along with this?

Once again, like the groups who tried to stop mountain lion and bobcat hunting in Arizona (and that will come again) antis are going to try and use political pressure to stop predator hunting contests. The AZGF Commission came out against stopping the hunting of lions based on biology and good science, but now they are poised to want to restrict coyote hunting events because incentives are given for sportsmen to participate in them.

Did you know the department spends thousands of sportsmen’s dollars annually for the aerial gunning of these predators, so why would they want to try and restrict or even ban these kinds of hunts?

It is all part of the “domino effect.” Pick the species that most people know little about and stop the hunting of that species.

Then move up the food chain and pick them off one at a time.

The average sportsman may say, “Well, I don’t participate in those events, so no big deal.”

That is what the antis are counting on and they are relentless in their pursuit to stop hunting.

What’s going to happen when these groups lobby the wildlife agencies and say there should not be fishing contests, which offers prizes for the winners and occur almost every weekend in America?

Think about it. It can happen. This is just the first step.

This commission meeting is going to be held in Bisbee. That’s a long way from Kingman. But there is still something you as a sportsman can do.

You can send your comments to the commissioners at AZGFD. Go online to www.azgfd.gov, click on to the commission and offer up your input to each and every one of them.

I know for a fact there are many local sportsmen in Mohave County who hunt predators.

Don’t wait for the “other guy” to weigh in and protect the privilege you currently have to participate in this sport.

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