Environmentalists criticize AZ plan to kill mountain lions

spectr17

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Environmentalists criticize Arizona plan to kill mountain lions


ASSOCIATED PRESS July 24, 2001

MESA, Ariz. – Environmentalists are criticizing a state proposal to kill up to 75 percent of the mountain lions in an area of the Tonto National Forest east of Phoenix as another example of favoring game animals over predators.

A Sierra Club statement calls the project – which could mean killing 36 mountain lions in the next three years – "wasteful and scientifically questionable."

But Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say it's the only sure way to determine if lions are causing the bighorn sheep population to shrink to fewer than 100.

The department plans a public hearing on the proposal Aug. 2 at the department's regional office in Mesa.

Sierra Club leaders say the plan reflects the influence of hunting groups and the state Game and Fish Commission's "anti-predator bias," part of an outdated approach to wildlife management, Sierra Club spokeswoman Sandy Bahr told the East Valley Tribune.

"Some hunters cling to that old-school thinking that one less lion means more bighorn sheep for me. It's senseless," she said.

Commission Chairman Dennis Manning said Tuesday that the proposal is based on sound science and is intended to restore the area to a natural balance.

"It is out of whack or we wouldn't be taking those lions out of there," Manning said.

Department wildlife managers also defended the proposal.

While the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society, a hunters group, is supporting the project, state game officials became alarmed by declining bighorn sheep populations before hunters raised the issue, said department biologist Ted McKinney.

Reducing the number of mountains lions is necessary to ascertain if predation, disease, nutrient deficiencies in food sources or other factors caused the bighorn sheep decline, McKinney said.

Officials also said they're not worried population reduction would endanger the species. In a similar project in New Mexico, about half the lion population was killed in a particular area, but returned to normal levels within three years, McKinney said.
 

grtwythunter

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Too bad California DFG doesn't have this option! Hope the sierra club is happy when there is no more food for the kittys and they start dragging off more kids and pets. Bye bye fluffy!     Scott
 

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