I became aware of issues on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge when I got an alert from an Arizona group about the mountain lion hunting. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to discuss various Kofa issues with a retired wildlife biologist who spent a significant portion of his career at Kofa. He’s brought other issues to my attention, issues which should concern us both from an animal rights perspective as well as a biodiversity/environmental perspective.
I’ll post more about this, but for now I’m going to quote Ron’s letter that he requested I post, and strongly encourage that we all send emails to Kofa’s manager and others. This letter is in response to the US Fish & Wildlife’s news release on 2/9/2007 about the streaming video they are adding to a remote location in Kofa (with more to follow). This video is being presented as a way to allow the general public to observe the wildlife without disturbing them. A side effect, as Ron will point out, that is ignored in the USFWD’s news release is that this will give the hunters an easy way to make note of the habits of the animals they plan to kill. If hunting was disallowed in the refuges, the streaming video would indeed be a way to bring the public to the remote areas of the refuge with minimal impact to the wildlife. However, with hunting allowed, the video will have a large negative impact on the wildlife.
The placement of these cameras will be in wilderness. I adamantly oppose the camera on Signal Peak , the highest point on the refuge at 4,877 feet. This remote, pristine area is the one of the last remaining prime bighorn lambing grounds on Kofa. I have stated for many years, and again recently in my opposition to the Kofa Mountain Lion Hunting Plan, that Signal Peak should be closed to human use, at least during the lambing season. I prefer to see the peak closed yearlong to human encroachment that causes detrimental disturbance to bighorn.
I also oppose the camera location at Adams Well unless there are severe restrictions, especially during hunting seasons, that would likely not make the project worthwhile anyway. Archery deer hunters set up hunting blinds around the well and drinker for the month of January. Having a streaming internet video do the hunter’s scouting of deer while they drink is highly unethical and certainly is not fair chase by most hunting standards. Bighorn also use this drinker and hunters will have an unfair advantage when hunting both ungulate species. I will send an e-mail letter in a few days with my reasoning why cameras should not be allowed at Adams Well and why they must not be allowed on Signal Peak for the public to view wildlife 24 hours a day, throughout the year.
I do not know if the Kofa NWR staff completed a Minimum Requirements Analysis(MRA)/Minimum Tool Analysis(MTA) for this project in wilderness. I am also unaware of the opportunity for public input regarding the cameras. The Kofa NWR staff did not post information of the streaming video project on the Kofa NWR website. I chanced on the information at the less-known FWS Virtual News Room.
If you oppose the placement of streaming video around a heavily used watering hole, where mule deer and bighorn hunting is also allowed, and a camera in remote sensitive lambing grounds, please send an e-mail expressing your concerns to, at least, the following U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials. Your reasons for not allowing the cameras may be different from mine and the diverse reasoning is valuable in decision-making.
Paul_cornes at fws dot gov — Kofa Refuge Manager/Region 2 Wilderness Coordinator
Thomas_harvey at fws dot gov — AZ/NM Refuge Supervisor (RM Cornes’ supervisor)
Nancy_roeper at fws dot gov — National Wilderness Coordinator
Retired Kofa NWR Wildlife Biologist
Former Federal Collateral Duty Refuge Law Enforcement Officer
Viet Nam Era Veteran
Ron tells me that he has emailed Cornes regarding the Minimum Requirements Analysis, and has not yet heard back. Recently an article showed up in the Yuma, Arizona paper (near where Kofa NWR is), which opens the floor for us to send letters to the editor, in addition to letters to Kofa’s manager.