HSUS wants hunters leave mountain lions and bobcats alone
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has started a ballot initiative proposing to make it illegal to pursue, shoot, snare, net or capture any “wild cat,” Tuscon.com reports. A secondary explanation used by the HSUS is it plans to ban “trophy hunting.”
If the petition receives enough signatures, the initiative can then be put on the 2018 ballot for voters to decide if cat hunting should be legal or not. The HSUS is focused on bobcats and mountain lions, but the newspaper reports HSUS didn’t stop with just those two. As the proposal is written, “wild cat” also includes jaguars, lynx and ocelot. Those three are all already on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and can’t be hunted.
The full initiative can be read here.
“People no longer really tolerate trophy hunting,” Kellye Pinkleton, the Humane Society’s state director, told Tuscon.com. “People are not shooting them, hounding them, trapping them for subsistence.”
Will it pass?
Tuscon.com reports the backers of this ban have until July 5, 2018 to receive 150,642 valid signatures to get the proposal onto the 2018 ballot. Though that might sound like a mighty task, this is where the HSUS and its local affiliate have a history of success.
Tuscon.com reports in 1994 the HSUS in Arizona was successful in having leg-hold traps banned on public lands. It passed with a 3-2 vote. For this case, Pinkleton told the newspaper that her organization and allies should be able to raise $3 million to $5 million in an attempt to force a public vote.
Kurt Davis, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, told the newspaper that if the proposal makes it onto the ballot it’ll likely be hard to defeat. Davis noted Arizona’s high populations of urban residents consists mostly of non-hunters. That’s why, as David told Tuscon.com, it’s so important for hunters to be vocal now in opposition.
As with any debate, you have two sides. Davis told Tuscon.com this situation comes down to science. Davis told the site there are an estimated 2,500 mountain lions in the state. Each year more than 10,000 tags for mountain lions are issued and paid for by hunters. However, due to the difficulty of taking a big cat, Davis said the population ranges from 2,000 to 3,000, which he adds is “ideal.”
Pinkleton’s response, as told to Tuscon.com, actually doesn’t eliminate hunting mountain lions completely. She explained the initiative would still allow the taking of mountain lions if they were endangering humans or killing other animals, including rancher’s cattle or reintroduced bighorn sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness area.
Pinkleton’s concept of taking a big cat because it was “needed” is more of self-defense, as opposed to conservation. Davis, however, responded with an example of needed conservation. He noted a 1990 initiative in California, the site reports. The initiative, similar to this one, sought to ban hunting mountain lions. It passed. The result has been an increase in the mountain lion population to the point state officials are killing them to protect other species. While hunters used to pay the state for tags and licenses to pursue mountain lions and keep populations in check, the tax payers are now paying the bill for wildlife officials to thin the cat population.
The Arizona Sportsmen for Wildlife Conservation is urging Arizona residents to not sign the petition, to educate your friends, family and neighbors that for 100 years sound science has successfully managed wild cat species, while hunter dollars fund wildlife conservation in the state. And to not donate any money to the HSUS, Arizonians for Wildlife or any other group supporting this initiative.
How to join the fight
As with many controversial topics in our industry, Sportsmen’s Alliance is leading the front line to protect our rights. You can read more about the initiative and what it means for hunting here, or visit its site at sportsmensalliance.com.
What do you think about HSUS’ initiative? What arguments would you bring to the table? Comment below and let us know!