Thursday, June 07, 2007

Saving sheep, killing lions: after USFWS is thwarted by NEPA, the state takes over lion kill on Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

The Fish and Wildlife Service badly wanted to kill mountain lions on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, which they say are killing off the bighorn sheep.

But that would mean they would have to write an environmental assessment of their plans -- meaning they would have to study the actual effect mountain lions are having and have had on bighorn sheep, and reveal their findings to the public -- and at this they balked. (One-page .pdf press release).

So after some political maneuvering by Arizona legislators the state got the go-ahead to wait till the lions crossed out of the refuge, and kill them.

State officials want us to know this is not about bloodlust. Predator control is not about bloodlust. It is about the humane desire to protect the wilderness from its own uncivilized savagery.

The Yuma Sun reported yesterday that the first lion has been killed, just north of the Refuge.

UPDATE 6/13/07

We received this message from a source who seems very knowledgeable about this hunt, and who has very interesting things to say. I have appended below the e-mail more or less in its entirety:

The Kofa lion that was killed only had the satellite collar on him for 3 months. The Arizona Game and Fish Department killed the lion too soon, resulting in the loss of valuable information regarding lion predation of bighorn on Kofa.

The FWS and the AGFD spent an enormous amount of time, expense, and effort to collar this lion. The first effort began 1.5 years ago. Another Kofa lion was recently captured and collared and the same fate may happen to it before valuable information is collected. The AGFD acted too quickly by killing this lion while he was located off the protected area of Kofa.

I appended these comments to the Yuma Sun article in the comment section below the article:

The AGFD biologists are excellent, competent wildlife managers, but they are still allowing the harvesting of 10 rams by human predation of bighorn in the upcoming December 2007 hunt. That is very inconsistent and double standard wildlife management. Human predation vs. natural lion predation:

10 hunters are allowed to kill 10 Kofa bighorn rams in 1 month

1 lion has killed 1 Kofa bighorn, not 2 as article states, in 3 months

The AGFD and Kofa staffs should have a moratorium on hunting until the population estimates of Kofa bighorn reach 600 sheep to demonstrate that they are actually concerned about the population decline.

The error of 2 Kofa sheep killed, instead of 1, was an honest mistake. However, it could be misleading, given the Kofa herd’s rapid decline, by implying that cougars are more of a cause of the decline than they are.

Note: I am assuming the 2 sheep killed on Kofa statement was an honest mistake. However, the premise of the article is based on 2 sheep being killed on Kofa to justify the action to kill the lion.



Anonymous said...

An excellent event chronology.

DRP said...

Thanks for this post. AGFD and FWS have poorly handled puma management lately in the Kofa NWR region.

No more pumas should be collared until the agencies clean up their act and take a more fair and ethical approach to landscape, not single species, management.

Arizona hunter